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(Software) Freedom is Elusive Without the Ability to Concentrate

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software at 10:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Deep thought

Summary: Software is consuming people’s minds; to make matters worse, people have become so attached to such software that they’re unable to see it and get away from it (they associate that software with “social life”)

SHALLOW and hollow superficialities constantly surround society, luring people into gossip about meaningless things like presidential candidates who merely look for attention, online trolls who just try to provoke/dramatise by taking down high-profile people, sporting events that have little impact on anything, and of course conspiracy theories that are based on pure conjecture (with no concrete evidence or solid facts to support them). Isolating oneself from pure lunacy has become harder in the age of social control media as the platform is shared by a lot of people and there’s no quality control.

“Isolating oneself from pure lunacy has become harder in the age of social control media as the platform is shared by a lot of people and there’s no quality control.”In order to understand the world one needs to reduce the signal-to-noise (or s/n) ratio; mainstream media and social control media are impediments to that because they try to set the tone, choose the topics, and cause conflict/arouse for more clicks/interaction (they call that “user engagement”). Ad-selling depends on attention levels and duration. So the last thing they want is for people to get the information quickly, then move on…

Fact-checking seems to be on the decline; it’s time-consuming and it rarely justifies the effort on a monetary level. That’s why journalism seems to have become farcical; it’s all about agenda and emotion. Look no further than some of the supposedly ‘successful’ news channels. It’s quite a circus at times. An illusion of balance is the best they can offer when it pays more to have partisanship.

“Ad-selling depends on attention levels and duration. So the last thing they want is for people to get the information quickly, then move on…”But this article isn’t about the demise of journalism — a recurring topic here, partly because the European Patent Office (EPO) subverted the media by bribes and blackmail (blame António Campinos and Benoît Battistelli for that). It’s actually about focus or concentration.

“Internet addition” was a hot topic about a decade ago. Around the same time people spoke of “information overload”. We no longer see those terms used very frequently (instead we hear about “fake news” and “social justice warriors” and whatnot). Society isn’t getting better; in a lot of ways it has been getting worse and a lot of people — especially young people — grow up with their eyes glued to a tiny screen they call “phone”; some of those “phones” have the microphone constantly turned on and churning out “notifications”, which limit one’s ability to form and develop a thought. Professor Eben Moglen spoke about that last year. It was a very good talk. Here it is again, for those who missed it:

Now enter software.

Proprietary software has long been designed and then optimised to subjugate or manipulate users. It’s about control. It’s not a healthy relationship and it is definitely not reciprocal. The user is viewed as merely a ‘consumer’ (in practice being consumed by the program rather than the other way around).

A lot of people have lost sight of social control media being addictive, even by design. The notifications play a role in that. You’re always behind, always in need of “catching up” (the “FOMO” phenomenon). The user is passive; hardly in control. Always being chased by the program, which pushes updates to the users, instead of waiting for the user to ‘pull’ updates. Users should get to the bottom of things rather than try to always stay on top.

“A lot of people have lost sight of social control media being addictive, even by design.”In the context of all this distraction we can expect users to lose sight of how their lives are being sucked away, how the dependence on this new relationship with a multi-user program (or “network”) actually makes them less happy, less productive, and a lot less independent. These “users” (or “useds” as Richard Stallman calls them) come to believe that some people online are actually their “friends” and that to demonstrate popularity they need to be on “top of the game” (gamification is another aspect of this addiction).

The problem extends to software at another level, not just the personal space but also the commercial space. Many programs which mimic Jabber and IRC now offer a conjoined “app” and send out E-mails to people, based on things that happen in channels. That can make it harder to escape work and find personal space. It harms people’s freedom (from work, from stress).

From the perspective of corrupt and/or oppressive governments, this can be seen as a form of social control. The society is constantly distracted, overly conscious of meaningless details whilst overlooking bigger problems. At the same time surveillance is facilitated and people are easily analysed for their thoughts and feelings.

“Progress means changing status quo and any change to the status quo is seen as a risk to monopolies.”In a better world and better societies with a functional democracy, based upon facts and sobriety, Free software/programs would be proliferated rather than mandated, and people would interact without middlemen like Facebook and Twitter deciding what’s “hot” or “trending”; chats associated with work would be strictly limited to working hours and friends would be people to meet in person, discreetly if necessary, to have private conversations rather than text to be ‘mined’/’farmed’ and sold or audio to be analysed and indexed.

A more productive and free-thinking society would rid itself or isolate itself from GAFAM (or similar). Monopolies are a corrosive force that’s detrimental to personal development and collective progress. Progress means changing status quo and any change to the status quo is seen as a risk to monopolies.

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