25 thoughts on “corporate gate-keeping: a triptych”

  1. And unfortunately our only options to escape this prison are developing for an OS that no one really uses, or develop web apps that are usually sandboxed and limited in functionality.

  2. The giant full-screen Windows 8 warning that “Windows 8 has protected you from evil!” is even worse. The option to bypass it is hidden away behind a “more info” link.

  3. that OSX warning is the friendlier one too: the ‘this is probably a virus and osx is going to delete it now’ variant for unsigned apps is some nasty stuff.

    actually it might be worth noting that all 3 are just about ‘last generation’, and in the near future this kind of thing looks to be getting significantly worse :/

  4. so these are just “hurdles,” not full on brick walls, yeah, i guess. but they’re really scary if you don’t know much about computers. you and i maybe know that there are ways around them, that you can turn them off or change security settings or just click okay. but maybe my grandmother is just gonna click delete. maybe someone who doesn’t use a computer as part of her day job is just gonna decide she doesn’t want to take the risk of opening some free game, if google tells her it might be dangerous.

    and that IS dangerous. every one of these designed-to-be-scary messages – messages that appear on little free programs, not microsoft- or apple-certified programs – is gonna intimidate a bunch of people out of running a free little game. every obstacle, no matter how small, even if it isn’t as scarily-worded as these messages deliberately are, stops a lot of people from ever seeing your game.

    and if we want a world of games by and for everyone – i wrote a book on this subject, so it’s hopefully clear where i stand – something that encourages only computer-educated people to play free games, or encourages people to only play corporate-approved games, is a problem. and as offal said, this is setting a precedent. corporate gatekeeping is only going to get worse.

    corporations like apple don’t want us making our own things, unless they get a cut, because that detracts from the sales of the things that they do get a cut of, and it detracts from our dependence on their products and acceptance of their practices. it’s why apple killed hypercard back in the day. and it’s why this shit is only going to get uglier.

  5. What’s the alternative? The common OSes have to code for the lowest common denominator, and if Chris Can’t-tell-a-mouse-from-a-hole-in-the-ground isn’t protected from running programs that Microsoft can’t explicitly certify, then sooner or later e installs a virus.

    That’s not a rhetorical question, by the way; I would love to have a middle ground.

  6. Burnside: knee-jerk contempt for people who aren’t as computer literate is pretty closely connected to the original gatekeeping problem. MSFT and AAPL are depending on normal users getting scared so that the circumvention tactics they know advanced users will eventually wither into inutility, just as malware companies know they can trick novices into installing their crap with ad banner scare tactics.

    Good security is really difficult. But there are crucial tone AND policy differences in how a piece of software like Firefox handles it compared to the Windows and OSX gatekeeping.

    All technologies are encoded with the values of those who created them, consciously or no; I try to use the stuff made by people who share mine. It’s not always possible… yet.

  7. ma’am you’re really on point but i dont know why you even respond to ‘jake’ at all. hes just being contrary for the sake of arguement


  8. hi slut i feel like it’s valuable to to articulate things not necessarily for the sake of the person i’m responding to, who may not be willing to be convinced, but for the sake of anyone else who may read, looking to learn something.

  9. A friend of mine lamented a couple years ago that quite a bit of the “trust platform” bullshit we were afraid of in the late 90s has managed to sneak into desktop OSes through the back door of tablets and Smartphones. :/

    There have been persistent rumors that Mac OS is eventually going to ‘merge’ with iOS; the day that happens is the day I embrace desktop Linux. :P

    – HC

  10. I pine for the days after the popularisation of the web, but before safely installing native exes required an encylopaedic knowledge of software producers and their conduct (or a walled garden). It was like the era between birth control and AIDS. I think the day that the tragedy of the commons really got under way was when Kazaa started bundling malware. The fuckers responsible are luxuriating in MS billions after the Skype buyout no doubt.

    I don’t know what the answer is here. Android would say a permission model that’s more understandable to users. Some would say virtualisation so that we can sandbox everything, but first we have to convince Intel it’s not a fucking luxury feature. Crypto folks would say that everything ought to be code signed all the time, and the real problem is that certs cost too much due to rent-seeking assholes. I dunno, so many of these solutions are tantamount to new platforms, and you only have to look at Metro to know how likely that is at succeeding.

    I hope you like javascript. :/

  11. I know what you mean by hurdles being scary, my dad gets freaked out by system updates with thier DO YOU WANT TO MODIFY CRITICAL SYSTEM FILES message.

  12. On the other hand only computer-educated people will play free games because they are the only people with the infosec credentials required in a world where malware & the subsequent exploitation of user’s personal information is real fuckin’ lucrative.

    It’s a (very) difficult problem.

  13. one of the reasons why programming is going to become an integral part of the educational curriculum :3

    “program or be programmed”
    –douglas rushkoff

  14. @JACK, what about writing games for existing sandboxed platforms? e.g. html5, flash, unity, native client, etc?

  15. @Zaphos, all web platforms, which is no doubt the smart direction to go. So I should rephrase “I hope you like javascript” to:

    HTML5: “I hope you like javascript”

    Flash: “I hope you don’t mind everyone in the tech industry (including Adobe!) trying to kill SWF.”

    Unity: Getting users to install the web player sends you back to square one, so this would be “I hope you don’t mind paying Adobe a tax just because they’ve realised that Flash CS is currently only the 4th best way to produce SWF-based games”

    NaCL: “I hope you don’t mind your game being exclusive to Chrome users, and people asking you how much your Google money hat is worth, in spite of the fact you never received a money hat from Google.”

  16. @JACK: Good points, although I’m not sure a new web player (Unity or another) sets you back to square one exactly. You don’t get the warnings Anna’s talking about at least, right?

    Obviously this isn’t as good as the web-player ideal of “it just works, you don’t need an install” … but it’s not as bad as having every browser say “OMG DANGER DANGER” for new game.

    The ‘existing sandbox’ approach lets one person/group jump the hurdles, and then individuals who just want to share their game via that sandbox don’t have to worry about it.

  17. While the chrome and osx examples are both disgusting, I don’t have any issues with the windows option, because it’s very clear how to bypass it. No tiny arrows, no arcane settings menus, just a button that says “OK”.

    Although seriously fuck the idea of blocking installation of anything made by someone who hasn’t paid apple money dollars.

  18. Apple didn’t kill HyperCard because it wanted a cut of third party software in OS X. HyperCard was old and obsolete by the time Steve Jobs came back to Apple, and even moreso by the time OS X launched.

    Apple always provided XCode (and before that ProjectBuilder) for free, along with a full suite of software development tools for OS X. It encouraged open third party development to provide the features and applications necessary to make their niche operating system an attractive alternative to Windows.

    It’s only after the success of the iPhone App Store and iPhone platform that the company became fixated on locking down OS X, and funneling third party applications through the Mac App Store.

    I am definitely not a cheerleader of GateKeeper and the direction Apple has been headed with OS X that past few years, but HyperCard has nothing to do with it.

  19. Oh I didn’t realize I got dissed here.

    I bought your book, Anna, and I get your position on games, I just think this is pretty low on the list of actual corporate gate-keeping and as I said more of a checkpoint or a hurdle designed to keep new users from downloading that file from some person who seems just like their grandson/nephew/best friend from high school and bricking their computers. I’ve fixed enough of those computers to know it happens.

    That said gate-keeping is a thing and chromebooks are real and so is apple deleting stuff off your iProducts. It’s bad enough I can’t play indie games offline on my xbox, it’s probably only gonna get more annoying.

    I posted that link to another book by some white lawyer guy because it’s basically about the same thing, the way computing devices and eventually the internet are leaving the hands of the people who buy the devices or use the internet and headed toward corporate control largely because of fear of malware.

  20. Wow good job there Daphne. “Men only argue for the sake of arguing so you should never listen to them.” That makes you look real classy. Don’t you know that people with good ideas welcome scrutiny because their ideas will hold up?

    That said, this is something I hadn’t thought about before. Where do these ‘warnings’ become a scare tactic to keep you from exploring software by little developers? It’s something to keep an eye on for sure. Especially when they only show a ‘discard’ option.

    Still, it isn’t as though my grandma is in the target demo for your average indie game.

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