a foolish followup

I know I have weird computer beliefs that you don’t understand. Here’s a short explanation.

You should know that my entire career is built upon deep political and philosophical beliefs. Same as my colleagues. We could all be getting paid a lot more money to work at Facebook, but we’ve chosen a different path.

The path we’ve chosen is to fight the war of openness and freedom on behalf of normal people who aren’t aware of what’s at stake. And what’s at stake is huge. The foundations of the entire internet are built on the morality of open.

Some companies out there trying to subvert that gift of open and lock it up for their own use, without sharing. Mostly to sell your information and your data — things that are deeply and innately you — aggregated, sliced, and diced just to sell you more things. These are the Facebooks of the world.

Other companies are just jerks. They compete unscrupulously, steal gratuitously from small indies, and disrespect their customers. These are the Zyngas of the world.

I don’t care if a company makes money. I don’t care if a company has secrets. I am not against companies.

But I do care if a company takes the work that my colleagues and I sweated, bled, and lost sleep over — work that we gave openly to the world with the only expectation that whoever uses it shares back — and locks it up as if it was always theirs. Or if they use that work to lock up our data. In today’s world, your data is you.

As for the jerks, the appropriate analogy is the Nike sweatshop. This is not to say that highly paid computer programmers should be given the same sympathy as a 12 year old Sri Lankan in an actual sweatshop. But the principle is the same — can you honestly use the end product (be they shoes or Words with Friends) if the process by which they got there was morally wrong?

So, I’m sorry I can’t be on Facebook with you, and I’m sorry I can’t play Words with Friends or Draw Something with you. Trust me, it hurts. I want to be connected to my friends, and fun games are fun. But I have a set of moral and philosophical beliefs that I’ve built my life around and staked my career upon that are fundamentally in
opposition to the behaviors of those companies.

I don’t expect my morals to be your morals, and I don’t always wear a hair shirt. I just felt like I wanted to explain my behavior, hopefully in a way that makes it less of a computer nerd issue and more of a fundamental human issue.

Jon Stewart speaks wisdom: experts, not nerds