Responding To Wannacrypt: The Road Toward A More Reliable Digital Environment

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We’ve never reposted an email before, but upon receiving the below from Brandt Dainow, we decided that because of its simplicity and clarity, it should be passed on uncut.

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From:] On Behalf Of Brandt Dainow
Sent: Tuesday, May 16, 2017 13:20
To:
Subject: Re: Wannacrypt and Digital Geneva Convention: should ISOC take a position?

Perhaps the comment wasn’t meant to be insulting, but it is, in my opinion, outrageous to call the average computer user “clueless.”  I have observed such a contemptuous attitude amongst IT professionals towards the non-technical since I began working in IT in the 1970’s.  It is unreasonable to expect the average consumer, or even company, to be technically competent in IT.  We do not expect every company, no matter how small, to be able to maintain their own electricity supply, their cars, their plumbing, etc.  Why should IT professionals expect computing to be different?  If it was just an internal attitude, it would do no harm.  But the reality is this expectation of expertise permeates IT design.  Interfaces are hard for the average user because they come with many expectations from IT professionals, even basic skills like how to visually divide up the screen and identify commonalities in icons are not natural.  There’s nothing “natural” about a mouse, it also takes practice and skill.  The result of this expectation coupled with contempt is that computer systems are needlessly complicated, technical documentation is poor or completely lacking, and IT support costs are too high.  No effort is made to simplify maintenance or use, all effort is focused on building new features, adding complexity, and trying to lock users into proprietary systems, against their own interest.  We build the systems, we design the standards.  If IT systems are too complicated for the average user, it’s not their fault, it’s ours.

The market structure then reinforces this.  Why was Microsoft allowed to cease support for WinXP?  Where do they get the right to dictate to the world what we do with products we have purchased and now own?  Did Microsoft drop XP because it was trying to improve consumer conditions?  No – they did it to force people to buy more products.  If Microsoft desired to cease XP support, why did they prevent an industry of XP support developing by restricting access to the necessary code?  If significant numbers of hospitals and government agencies depend on XP, Microsoft’s commercial selfishness endangered lives.  Why does Microsoft prevent other companies issuing security patches for any version of Windows?  They don’t restrict for the common good of society, they do it to make money, and the rest of society can rot as far as they are concerned.  I completely understand Microsoft’s decision to cease XP support – I used to work in Microsoft support and know what it costs.  But that doesn’t mean they couldn’t have licenced it out to others, and there certainly would have been an opportunity to make money doing so.  IP and any other issues could have been easily handled – it happens all the time.  If I had been given the opportunity to start a business running XP patching, with the existing user base out there, I could have obtained millions in start-up funding overnight – such a business is a no-brainer.

We have to stop treating OS’s and other software like optional consumer products and recognise that they are now essential services.  We cannot allow software vendors to do whatever they like – force upgrades, withdraw support, etc.  Free market ideas do NOT have any place here – there is no free market – who is my alternative supplier for Windows?  A free market would have meant people could have shifted to another patch supplier when Microsoft dropped support for XP.  When we will wake up and recognise that we are living under monopoly domination by selfish mega-corps who will act against our interests in order to make more profit?  Companies like Microsoft are simply anti-capitalist.  This pattern has been seen over and over in every new tech industry of the modern ear, going back at least to rail.  The problem is always the same – consolidation into abusive monopolies, and the solution is always the same – government intervention, licencing and regulation.

Regards,

Brandt Dainow

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25 Things I Want For My Neighborhood.nyc

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neighborhood cartoon picturesNovember 30, 2015, Jackson Hts., NYC – My neighborhood is the place where most all my needs are me. It’s where I eat, I work, I sleep, I play – where I live. Not all the time – my work and vacations draw me away, and Manhattan’s wonders tempt me all too often – but most of the time. And as I’m getting up there in years, I’m beginning to think (hope?) that it’s the place where I’ll end my days (more on this below).

Next to my health, my family and my friends, my neighborhood is probably the most important thing in my life. And I’m blessed to live in a wonderful one – Jackson Heights.

In two days (now passed) I’m heading to a meeting at Queens Borough Hall to discuss what could be an important addition to my neighborhood, JacksonHeights.nyc and the vast potential it offers. It’s something I’ve thought about for 15 yeas, and now it’s just around the corner. Here’s what “I want” to happen to my neighborhood as a consequence of the development of the neighborhood domain name.

  • I want JacksonHeights.nyc to add more community to my neighborhood. (For background, a neighborhood is a geographic area and a community is connections, friendships, shared interests, and support. It can be local or global.)
  • I want “adding more community” to be a priority requirement for any entity that’s given the license to run JacksonHeights.nyc.
  • I want JacksonHeights.nyc to help create a more collaborative and caring neighborhood – both on and offline.
  • I want it to expose and highlight needs and opportunities and facilitate collaborations. .
  • I want it to empower residents to organize and address these needs.
  • I want it to facilitate the creation of caring communities that focus on the needs of have nots.
  • I want it to offer a great decision-making tool, one that helps form a majority without crushing the minority.
  • I want a JacksonHeights.nyc that’s organized and governed as a common, with a collaborative decision making process engaging all the neighborhood’s stakeholders.
  • I want JacksonHeights.nyc to help existing organizations (for and nonprofits) achieve their missions.
  • I want JacksonHeights.nyc to pay its way and create a local job or two.
  • I want JacksonHeights.nyc to be the first choice for local businesses online advertising dollars.
  • I want JacksonHeights.nyc to be the place where residents turn for recommendations for dentists, doctors, electricians, plumbers, restaurants…
  • I want it to have a neighborhood calendar I can plan my life around, with a calendar having a check box that allows me “Invite the world” or “Just for the neighborhood.”
  • I want it to show 311 and 911 calls, showing respect for privacy of course.
  • I want it to help residents organize to resolve issues raised by these calls.
  • I want Jackson Heights.nyc to create a neighborhood where residents respond and adapt to climate change.
  • I want JacksonHeights.nyc to be a safe place to conduct my online life. That means it must have DNSSEC and DANE (technical protocols) and be part of a citywide security and privacy effort.
  • I want JacksonHeights.nyc to present all the information about the neighborhood that I or any visitor might want. This is information we  know collectively and should be presented by wiki-style.
  • I want the operator of JacksonHeights.nyc to serve residents via desktops, phones, tablets, etc.
  • I want all the software used on JacksonHeights.nyc to be open source.
  • I want JacksonHeights.nyc to share its riches with other city neighborhoods.
  • And I want our neighborhood’s residents and institutions to train everyone interested in effectively using JacksonHeights.nyc.

The city’s extensive and well thought out application for the neighborhood domain names leads me to think the administration shares these thoughts. But it will surely take the engagement and support of many to make them a reality. I hope many of you will be in Borough Hall, Room 200 on Wednesday morning at 9:30 (see invite post here) to add your Wants to this list.

Best,

Tom Lowenhaupt

 

For more on the city’s dotNeighborhoods, see here.

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