Week 154

Dog on a roomba! Also: a few additional thoughts on the NSA leaks and why we discuss it here.

In case you’re wondering why we’re continuously using our company’s blog to voice our concerns about the NSA revelations and government overreach, you have to understand how we ended up doing the job that we are doing and being company owners in the first place.

The web had a large influence on my overall socialization and on my understanding of the world as it works and of how I wish it would work. I was too young to participate actively in what happened during the New Economy, but when the first ripples of the Web 2.0 came to be, I was – mostly out of pure luck and genuine curiosity – at the right place at the right time. I met the right people and had the fortune of being taken into various communities that supported exploration and tinkering early on.

With the help of a community on IRC, I stopped using Windows about ten years ago and switched fully to Linux. By learning how to use this powerful technology, I acquired an understanding of the technologies that power the internet. One doesn’t need to be a developer to have the ability to understand how a system works (although it certainly makes it easier).

Later on, I started blogging around 2004 without knowing about the fuzz that was being made about it at first. For me, publishing on the internet wasn’t really new. Back than I didn’t make a distinction between having hourl-long discussions about the things that make the world work on various IRC chats and publishing with the help of a CMS. It was all “the web” for me.

Obviously, things have changed. We all developed a stronger awareness of what was happening and what we all have been accomplishing. I started to be more interested in the technology’s influence on human behavior than in the technology itself.

We all were of the web, not only on it.

The disillusionment with how the web is evolving started long before the Snowden leaks, but those are the most substantial ones. Yesterday, at JSConf, Alex summarized it quite adequately:

We’ve turned mankind’s greatest technical achievement into a lifestyle magazine that spies on you.

Dang. That is exactly how many people, those who are of the web, feel these days. Somebody came along and pulled the rug from under our feet. Things that where taken for granted are not so anymore.

It is time to take back what is ours.

Whatever political or economical consequences might arise from those leaks, the real implications are still hard to grasp. Many people in the technology community are ready to do whatever it takes and attack the struggle for power head on and however this will materialize itself, it will shape the work of this company too, because it will shape us as people.

But beware, this is a story without a clear ending. While Silicon Valley will still try to determine for a long time how new technologies come into the world, it shouldn’t be regarded as an archetype anymore. Technology as industry has been corrupted by the same things that it wanted to disrupt in the first place. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at how those tech giants have responded so far to those leaks. Or take a look at how those big shot technology investors are talking on the record about what should be done.

With all that being said, I don’t want to end this week note with those dark scenarios. So I will finish with a Vine of a dog riding on a Roomba instead.

Have a nice week, everybody. Oh, and if you are interested in learning how to make your Mac a bit more secure, come by our office at Rosenthaler Str. 34/35 on Thursday at around 5pm. We will show you how to encrypt your emails, how to use Virtual Private Networks (VPN) and the TOR browser bundle and other little tweaks that won’t stop the NSA completely, but will make their dragnet surveillance a little harder.