OffBeat

This declaration designed in America

Image Credit: National Archives
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We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men — and, what the hell, women, too — are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Everyday Low Prices.

–That to secure these rights, it may be necessary to replace your gadgets every year or so.

–That, whenever any Service Contract becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the Users to pay an Early Termination Fee and find a new carrier, whose customer service department doesn’t suck armadillo eggs, and to sign a new two-year contract in the hopes that the iPhone 5, at least, might effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Corporations long established should not be hassled about their Obsessions over Glass and Aluminum, or Rounded Rectangles, or similar light and transient causes; and accordingly experience has shown, that people are more likely to continue shouting their support for Android or Apple in online forums, even though their phones are driving them crazy, than to right themselves by throwing the damn things out the window. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Lock-in, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Corporations, and to provide new Gadgets for their future amusement.

–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Users; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Terms of Service. The history of the present Rulers of Silicon Valley is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Vertically Integrated Ecosystem over these Customers. To prove this, let these Facts be submitted to a candid world.

  • They have added new Features every six months, making it nearly impossible to resist the urge to Upgrade, whether it be necessary or not.
  • They have made their products fragile and breakable, so that you are lucky if they Outlast the Warranty by more than a day or two.
  • They have sealed their products’ batteries inside their cases, making them impossible to replace, and moreover, they have blocked our access with strange Screws, impossible to remove without Special Tools.
  • They have put moisture sensors deep inside the microphone ports, so you can no longer pretend your phone did not somehow accidentally fall into the Toilet.
  • They have handed over the design of their user interfaces to Engineers, whose sole experience with user interfaces is limited to the Unix Command Line, and for whom any half-assed graphics seem as much an improvement as when one stops Beating One’s Head with a Stick.
  • They have allowed their app stores to become overrun with Fart Apps and clones of Bejeweled and Temple Run.
  • They have given us a battery life of half a day, and asked us to consider it good enough.
  • They have taken our Personal Information, and stored it up without our knowledge, until they know more about us than our own mothers, which is just Creepy.
  • They have often refused to make their products interoperable with one another.
  • For painting their products in any number of garish colors in a fruitless attempt at Differentiation.
  • For removing many features into the Cloud, where they have become inaccessible, unless we agree to recurring Monthly Fees.
  • For making us look at Advertisements at every turn.
  • For Microsoft Zune.

In every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by press releases and useless FAQs.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Corporate brethren. We have contributed our wisdom to public Forums and User Generated Content sites without remuneration. We have reminded them that Users are also Customers. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, or at least to their avarice, and reminded them that we could easily take our money to some other manufacturers, if only we could find one. They have been deaf to the voice of justice.

We therefore, the Customers of Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and others, assembled, appealing to the Memory of Steve Jobs for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good Users of these Products, solemnly publish and declare, that these United Customers are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent Users. We believe that we should get more and better technology every year, and for less and less money, or ideally No Money At All, and we declare that it is not a Contradiction to demand everything for nothing as if we Invented all these things ourselves. Therefore, we say, we shall take our desires to Kickstarter, and place our trust in crowdsourced projects which may or may not ever materialize, in hopes of getting something better, someday, and who knows, maybe even Made in America.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the worthiness of our claims, no matter how absurd, we mutually pledge to each other our tweets, our Pinterest boards, and our sacred Tablets.

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An earlier version of this column appeared on LinkedIn as The Declaration of (Tech) Indepedence. Now read the real Declaration of Independence

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