My friend Cory Doctorow —author, digital rights advocate, and Boing Boing alum — refuses to sell his audiobooks through Amazon's Audible because of its mandatory Digital Rights Management (DRM) system, which restricts user choices by locking them into Amazon's platform. Instead, Cory crowdfunds his own DRM-free e-books and audiobooks, which are read by professional narrators like Wil Wheaton. (I've bought them all!)
And so it is with Cory's next book, called The Internet Con: How to Seize the Means of Computation. "The hardcover comes from Verso on Sept 5," writes Cory, "but the audiobook comes from me — because Amazon refuses to sell my audio."
You can support the Kickstarter here.
The book presents an array of policy solutions aimed at dismantling the monopolistic power of Big Tech, making the internet a more open and user-focused space. Key among these solutions is the concept of interoperability, which would allow users to take their apps, data, and content with them when they decide to leave a service, thus reducing the power of tech platforms.
From Cory's Medium article announcing the Kickstarter:
I won't sell my work with DRM, because DRM is key to the enshittification of the internet. Enshittification is why the old, good internet died and became "five giant websites filled with screenshots of the other four" (h/t Tom Eastman). When a tech company can lock in its users and suppliers, it can drain value from both sides, using DRM and other lock-in gimmicks to keep their business even as they grow ever more miserable on the platform.
Here is how platforms die: first, they are good to their users; then they abuse their users to make things better for their business customers; finally, they abuse those business customers to claw back all the value for themselves. Then, they die.
The Internet Con isn't just an analysis of where enshittification comes from: it's a detailed, shovel-ready policy prescription for halting enshittification, throwing it into reverse and bringing back the old, good internet.