Adversarial Interoperability

As I’m gearing up for two big posts tomorrow and wednesday, I will simply give you a link (courtesy of Nick) to read.

Cory Doctorow’s EFF post on Adversarial Interoperability explains the move we need to make to fix what’s wrong with big tech, monopolies, duopolies, etc, etc. Basically everything that is wrong with the Internet, mobile, and web.

If I was able to issue required reading to everyone who is regulating tech or running for offices that are in a position to regulate tech, this would be it.


Comments (Archived):

  1. iggyfanlo

    Interoperability for technology and its place in government I believe has a nice analogy with real estate, i.e. eminent domain. It’s in the common good for this “area” to be shared, but the owners (those who created the value) should be compensated… perhaps not what they would like but at least some compensation for the efforts to build that value and service.

  2. jason wright

    I read it over there, i see it over here. It’s like magic.As Nick seems to now only permit discussion of his posts via Twitter i will write something here instead.Quote:”I believe, and we have said at USV many times, that driving interoperability is the best and most effective way to limit the power of big tech companies, and that in today’s environment we should focus on “breaking up the data, not the companies.”.”To break up the data is to break up the companies, no? Without ‘their’ data they then amount to what exactly? They know that, and unless they plan to become the new rails on which all this diced data will move (Libra?) they are looking at the wall.

    1. Michael Brill

      Yes, I was wondering what are the magical standards that allow big tech to thrive while eliminating their competitive advantage. One thing that seems quite feasible and doesn’t really require much, if anything, in the world of interoperability is to allow users to define or subscribe to third party content filters. Define the end goal requirement, not the means. This doesn’t solve all problems, but it solves perhaps the biggest one right now and could implemented in 2020, not 2030 when all this is likely to be made irrelevant by some inevitable technology platform shift that’ll take out incumbents anyway.

  3. Joe Cardillo

    Thanks for the link, Fred. Been reading about this for a while but hadn’t seen this round-up, lots of good reads there. Much smarter folks than me working on it, but at a minimum seems like regulatory frameworks for device, network, and platform are coming. Having that entire chain controlled by Big Tech with minimal visibility isn’t working and by definition really can’t work.

  4. Rob Underwood

    “Adversarial interoperability” is great framing for much of the work that we’re doing at FINOS now, including / especially projects such as the FDC3 desktop interoperability standards ( Going to reuse and share this idea as it helps to well contextualize a key component of the open source in financial services movement, especially when we get questions like “Why is Goldman open source its modeling language and platform?”

  5. William Mougayar

    Not only does interoperability results in a level-playing field for competing players, it also fuels user adoption. This says it all “Fix the Internet, Not the Tech Companies” from the other Cory article of the same title:

  6. Sebastian Wain

    My two cents from 2012: Cloud Development: the dictatorship of the mainstream services’ APIs.

  7. Steven Roussey

    One of Google’s potent weapons in its arsenal is that it controls login to its services to such a level that only approved browsers are allowed to access those web pages (just ask linux users). And it is not just browser competition that suffers, but services like ours that issue GDPR/CCPA requests on user’s behalf.

  8. sigmaalgebra

    Okay, I sense that the key words are big, distributed and open.Or, the idea is good versus bad, as in formula fiction and the US TV westerns white hats versus black hats, and other such dichotomys involving evil, greed, deception, duplicity, sin, etc.I’m beginning to see: Ozone good; Freon bad. Artisanal good; factory farm bad. Organic good; fertilizer bad. Wind and solar good; fossil fuels and nuclear bad. Vegetables good; meat bad. Chastity good; sex bad. Just really purely bad, carbon.Sounds like we have moved several hundred years back into the Dark Ages of Europe.Then it appears that now we have the Trilogy Catechism: (i) Distributed good; centralized bad. (ii) Small good; big bad. (iii) Open good; proprietary bad.In this it’s not clear just what centralized, big, and proprietary is the target.Maybe after we swallow the Trilogy Catechism we will get some specific applications!!!E.g., we should spend $94 T on the Green New Deal because renewable good; carbon bad. There is not so much as a single tinny tiny drop of good evidence that human sources of CO2 will have any measurable effect on the temperature of the earth, yet we just skip over that point.Sounds like yet another effort to convince the public with a Bernays narrative also borrowing from Nazi Dr. J. Goebbels’s IIRC “If you repeat a lie often enough, then people will believe it. Eventually even you will come to believe it.”So, I can see it now: A nighttime candle lit procession of drugged zombies in hooded long robes slowly marching in a miles long line of twos chanting in unison “Small tech good; big tech bad.” “Wind and sun good; carbon and nukes bad” “Vegetables good; meat bad.” ….So, let’s set aside such generalities and consider the Trilogy Catechism:(1) BigI’m concerned about big. My startup needs quite a lot of computing. For that I get to pick (and settled on) (i) a processor instruction set (64 bit Intel), (ii) processor chips (AMD or maybe later Intel), (iii) motherboards (so far Asus), (iv) an operating system (Windows, especially 7 64 bit Professional and Windows Server 2008), and (v) infrastructure software, middle-ware, (mostly Microsoft’s .NET and SQL Server). Later I will pick LAN switches and IP routers with Web site load levelers (likely Cisco).So, I’m depending heavily on “big tech”; mostly I’m depending on Microsoft.Alternatives might have been Linux (some distribution), Apple, or, likely still an option at least in principle, IBM. That’s about it.(2) Open.Sure, PCI cards, Ethernet, USB, TCP/IP, SMTP, HTTP, HTML, and more are open. Fine with me!For .NET, IIRC for that Microsoft has “.NET Core” which is open source and intended to run on nearly anything from microwave ovens and wrist watches to Oak Ridge supercomputers. Fine with me, but I’m ignoring .NET Core and just continuing to use .NET 4.x.For SQL Server, I’m using it and hope to continue, but IIRC SQL is an ANSI standard.In simple terms of direct relevance for my startup, .NET Core and ANSI SQL do not concern me, are far away on a back burner, way down in my TODO list.(3) Distributed.It’s tough enough to get everything running as desired in one place. Distributed is harder.If my startup gets annual revenue approaching, say, $1 billion, then I will take seriously being distributed. For now, distributed is far away on a back burner and way down on the TODO list.In particular:(a) I really like Microsoft’s products; I just wish they were better at technical writing, say, as good as Jim Buyens. All the talk that Microsoft is a threat does not concern me.I hope Microsoft gets bigger; then they will be able to do more, maybe more for my startup.(b) Google. I use it a lot and like it. I especially like YouTube, e.g., for Christmas music. Somehow recently full shows of Hannity are harder to find, but I don’t know the cause and don’t really need Hannity much anyway.(c) Facebook. I have an account but log on likely less often than once a month. For now, there is one person there I “follow”. Later for publicity I may make more use of Facebook.To me, the talk that Facebook is a threat of some kind does not concern me.(d) Apple. I have no Apple products and want none. I have no beef with Apple.For more in big tech, open, and distributed, I don’t care — see no need for concern.