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Monday Tech Implosion.

23

One of my colleagues showed me his new very smart watch. Measures his oxygen saturatation. Monitors his sleep. Notes his illnesses, and he likes the data. This all feels very controlling: and I’d worry about where the data is going.

Far better to stick to something analogue.

Further on open source. Nothing is pure. If you contribute any scholarly work, anywhere, any time, it will be used in ways you do not intend. Once it is out in the wild, you are not responsible. With open source, any improvements must be shared and you cannot curate this.

Your code will be used by people you don’t like. If not the administration of Trump, consider that the Huawei is developing Deepin

The next month, the Los Angeles Times reported that Immigrations and Custom Enforcement had renewed a 2016 contract with the code-hosting service GitHub. It seemed like history repeating itself: another backlash, another reckoning.

But GitHub is different.

With 37 million users, GitHub is the largest host of source code in the world. Much of the code hosted on GitHub is open source, meaning it’s accessible, shareable, and modifiable to anyone. Developers join the platform, download one another’s code, then collaborate, improve it, and tweak it for their own projects. Google, Facebook, the federal government, and many other technology firms rely on open-source licensing, a legal framework that lets users borrow ideas and pool together the insights and labor of volunteer developers. GitHub is itself built on open-source tools, and sometimes uses code hosted on the platform to improve itself.

So when news of GitHub’s contract with ICE emerged, its employees weren’t the only ones outraged. Because of the transitive nature of open source, volunteer developers—who host code on the site to share with others—may have unwittingly contributed to the code GitHub furnished for ICE, the agency responsible for enforcing immigration policy. Some were troubled by the idea that their code might in some way be used to help agents detain and deport undocumented migrants. But their outrage—and the backlash to it—reveals existential questions about the very nature of open source.

Richard Schneeman is a software developer in Austin. Since 2012, he’s contributed to Ruby on Rails, an open-source coding software that GitHub has long used as part of its infrastructure. “Since I have contributed to Ruby on Rails, and I know that GitHub is using Ruby on Rails, I know that ICE is directly using my code,” he told me. “When I first found out, I was like, Oh, this has gotta be a mistake, right?”

In December, Schneeman signed an open letter alongside 2,000 other open-source contributors, who called the ICE contract a betrayal of open source’s commitment to “inverting power structures and creating access and opportunities for everyone.”

Sydney Fussell, The Atlantic

In the meantime, almost every tool I use has been revising its terms of service — in part because Mr Beale and is Legal Legion of Evil are getting good at testing such contracts in court. This is getting interesting.

“The doctrine of unconscionability ‘ “ ‘refers to “ ‘an absence of meaningful choice on the part of one of the parties together with contract terms which are unreasonably favorable to the other party.’ ” ’ ” ’ [Citations.] There is both a procedural and substantive aspect of unconscionability; the former focuses on ‘oppression’ or ‘surprise’ due to unequal bargaining power, the latter on ‘overly harsh’ or ‘one-sided’ results. [Citation.]

‘ “Both procedural and substantive unconscionability must be present for the court to refuse to enforce a contract under the doctrine of unconscionability although ‘ “they need not be present in the same degree.” ’ [Citation.] Essentially the court applies a sliding scale to the determination: ‘ “[T]he more substantively oppressive the contract term, the less evidence of procedural unconscionability is required to come to the conclusion that the term is unenforceable, and vice versa.” ’ ” ’ [Citation.] Absent conflicting evidence, the trial court’s unconscionability determination is a question of law subject to de novo review. [Citations.]” (Ramos v. Superior Court (2018) 28 Cal.App.5th 1042, 1063 (Ramos); see also Armendariz v. Foundation Health Psychcare Services, Inc. (2000) 24 Cal.4th 83, 113–114 (Armendariz).)

UPDATE: You will know things are well underway when Patreon revises its TOS again and removes the restrictions it inserted on December 20th before February 6th.

There is nothing good, but some things are useful. One of those is to automate everything. I note, since deep sixing Linkedin, my productivity is up. Way, way up. Keep your networking to real life. All social media is for promotion, or not to be used. Given that, time to change some things in the backend.

  • Google has a kit for wordpress,
  • I’ve optimized the widgets for the site
  • I have reinstalled the licence information
  • Updated the privacy notice (May the EU rot)
  • Optimized the databases
  • added Rank Math SEO
  • and an accelerated mobile Platform (AMP) plugin.

Backend work, needed semi regularly.

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