The graveyard of things

Dunnet head stone
End of the road

In the 1970s, UNIX was big, and so were the machines it ran on. The source code was controlled by those who sold the computers, and if you wanted to modify it so that you could fix things, or improve things, you were stuffed.

The tinkerers weren’t happy, so they created a charter, a licence to share, improve and adapt, so that you could create. Free Software was born. Free to be used, changed and distributed. It wasn’t for everyone but tinkered loved it, and it changed the world.

Fast forward to today, and one of the most famous users of open source, and part-time supporter, Google, stirs up trouble in its Nest division, when it announces not only that it will stop supporting an old device, but also that all existing ones will stop working: Nest’s Hub Shutdown Proves You’re Crazy to Buy Into the Internet of Things http://feeds.wired.com/c/35185/f/661370/s/4ebe676d/sc/15/l/0L0Swired0N0C20A160C0A40Cnests0Ehub0Eshutdown0Eproves0Eyoure0Ecrazy0Ebuy0Einternet0Ethings0C/story01.htm

The tinkerers have been duped. They don’t own the devices. They now have expensive hockey pucks.

So what could Google have done?

How about releasing the server code and allowing anyone to patch their device to talk to a local server? It might be less smart now, but it’s still smarter than a hockey puck.

Indeed, in a world where breaches are getting more common, and devices have more and more access into our lives, why isn’t local access an option? Maybe we need new standards, but most of this data has been accessible via usb for years.

This is your data and you should have the option to secure it to your network, and to keep collecting and using it no matter what changes happen to the original manufacturer.

Embrace tinkering. Reject dead man’s switches.

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