The increasing disempowerment of the computer user

Ben Finney ben+python at
Thu Dec 12 03:35:37 CET 2013

Ben Finney <ben+python at> writes:

> Larry Martell <larry.martell at> writes:
> > On Wed, Dec 11, 2013 at 8:42 PM, Roy Smith <roy at> wrote:
> > > rusi <rustompmody at> wrote:
> > >
> > >> Many assumptions need to be verified/truthified/dovetailed
> > >> starting from switching on the machine onwards for this to work.
> > >
> > > At the time that [Kerningham & Ritchie] wrote [the C programming
> > > language], very few people who used computers ever got anywhere near
> > > the power switch :-)
> >
> > Nope. Long before that I was working on computers that didn't boot
> > when you powered them up, You had to manually key in a bootstrap
> > program from the front panel switches.
> That's done by the *operator*, not the user. Most people who *used*
> those computers worked at terminals at a distance, and usually separated
> by a locked door, from the computer's power switch.
> > (And no, this is not a takeoff of the Four Yorkshiremen sketch.)
> The pendulum swings back and forth. Computer users are once again
> blithely handing all their agency and choice back to centralised
> operators (so-called “could computing”) who follow an agenda not of
> those users's choosing.

Hmm, interesting Freudian slip there. I meant “cloud computing”, of
course. That's where the computer owner pretends their service is always
available and easy to access, while having terms of service that give
them unilateral power to kick you off with no warning, no explanation,
no accountability, and no recourse.

 \         “All television is educational television. The question is: |
  `\                           what is it teaching?” —Nicholas Johnson |
_o__)                                                                  |
Ben Finney

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