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On being made into CyberOutlaws

     CyberOutlaws are not Luddites who reject technology - they are technically very competent. Yet their wish to use  technology creatively and on their own terms is seen as threatening. Why? Because it is different. Cyberoutlaws:

  • don’t want to put all their data in the Cloud because they know the value of locally held information. They see governments, corporations and individuals being increasingly reliant on the Cloud and know there is little or no resilience, or fallback or ‘reversionary mode’ for when things do go wrong - as they will.
  • know that contactless debit cards are insecure, as are medical records (even though the government says ‘Less than one percent of people will be affected by errors) - as are other ‘march of progress’ developments.
  • fully understand that the risks of the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) are hopelessly underestimated and that the general public are neither aware, nor yet educated enough, to assess the threat to themselves and their children.
  • use a range of software and know how to keep trusted old applications working - not just to save money. They are frustrated that increasingly, as old hardware fails, they will be shut out from these good tools and from the Internet unless they buy new devices - that they don’t need and which don’t support their previous investments.
  • see so-called ‘artificial intelligence’ being over-sold (yet again) and are concerned at the increasing trust and responsibility put in the hands of machines with no sense of themselves, let alone of the consequences to others.
  • are concerned that projects demand that they register with transitory ‘team sites’ of debatable value to the efficiency and effectiveness of the work - especially when simpler ways of working are available.
  • laugh at the huge errors of location on Gogle Maps and others and the time people waste trying to make the real world fit the digital world, which they assume to be the truth. It’s a great plot line for a murder “She was lured by her smartphone into the dark alley where they were waiting ... ”. Wait till the IoT devices start locating themselves!
  • observe an unhealthy trend that Internet resources, which were free at one time, are now deleted unless they are ‘monetized’, and they note that even the BBC only keeps archives for two years - institutionalised amnesia. They feel that the future will be like Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ or his ‘1984’ ... where cheats (politicians?) can deny everything.
  • know that they have expert technical and digital skills and that their well-informed advice is being ridiculed, and worse, ignored.  They find that by being different from the majority makes them CyberOutlaws, marginalised - a situation not of their making. They feel cheated of their rights to choose how they live their lives.

      But, they realise that right, and might, and time, are on their side. After all, CyberOutlaws are in a position to make that judgement because ... they know the criteria and the majority don’t. Arrogance? No, it’s a simple reality.

Update: There is a second trend at work here - those who are not tech savy and find that they, increasingly, cannot access banking and government services without an Internet connections. These people are not cyberoutlaws. They are simply being denied their human rights by changes that they are not in a position to deal with - they are vulnerable people on whose behalf CyberOutlaws are making their stand as well as for themselves.

Some recent examples

     People are now being marginalised as changing technology imposes unacceptable constraints on them - and there is beginning to be a noticeable backlash. For example:

  • Expert users enraged at Firefox change. In September 2018 Mozilla updated its Firefox browser to version 62 and, with notice, removed the ‘Notes’ field - becuase ‘most people don’t use it’. Many people actively used this field in an advanced manner and were outraged at the change and felt disenfranchised and marginalised, eg:
    • “The way FireFox used to do bookmarks was one of its best features. I could care less what happens on a phone. I use my phone to make phone calls. Tired of being pushed around by people who can't chew their food without GPS and an app.”
    • “What a disastrous and stupid upgrade.  As you can see, I'm fighting with myself not to descend into a string of obscenities.  Who decided nobody needed anything they personally weren't using?  A guy in a cave?”
    • “Chrome can't do bookmark properties so it is inferior. Oh, wait, neither can Firefox anymore, it's incompatible with coders who think everybody uses the browser the way they do. I'm so frigging sick of ‘progress’ that makes stuff worse.”
  • Vulnerable people outlawed for wanting to use cash. The Slashdot website has reported on the increasing trend to ban the use of cash in certain mainstream shops, businesses and service providers. It featured a Wall Street Journal article from 28 Dec 2018 highlighting the consequences for some of the most vulnerable people in society. Also, not only are local banks and post offices closing, but now they cannot use the little cash that they have - and they are treated like some kind of misfit.

There’s more to come of course ...

[10 Jan 2019]