The coolest thing about doing this artsy noncommercial creative work is that you get to stop. You get to throw up your hands and quit, if you want. It's like a charity. The widows and orphans are telling you "Thank you for not letting us starve, kind sir!" They're all grateful to you, they're touching the hem of your garment. You get to feel pretty good about what you're doing, and if you're tired, you just stop. It's like: "Okay, I'm tired! I've got compassion burnout now. No more free software. Lady, you and your damn kids can starve."
Nobody can do anything about that sudden refusal on your part. "Well, he gave us a really cool algorithm ... What more can we possibly ask?" If you abandon your rug in the bazaar, people just steal it immediately. They steal everything in a hot second. But if you abandon your open source code, the code just sort of sits there. Other people pitch in, and it gets bigger and fatter. There are big festering piles of code, huge piles of code. This has been playing out for seventeen, eighteen years now.
A classic struggle in other ways. You've got the Stallman free-as-in-freedom model ... This guy sees code as some kind of handmade luxury vehicle. Maybe it's a tank. And you've got Gates, who is the commercial industrialist robber baron. The Ford Model T ... any color you like as long as darkness is the standard.
If you're prettier then Gates underprices you, and if you're cheaper then he uses Fear Uncertainty and Doubt. This guy ... William Gates? He's my age. He's a gentleman of my generation. We're a few months apart in age. I've never met him. I hate to pick on him. Really. He's obviously a very smart man. And he's a nicer guy, as a human being, than a lot of his competitors. But I have to pick on Bill, instead of Bill's competitors. Because Bill physically killed and ate all his competitors.
The older Bill gets, the uglier he gets. He's a guy riding a white horse, that turned into a runaway bronco bull, that turned into a scaly crocodile, and now, it is turning into some kind of diseased revenant. It's like the Steed of the Nazgul, those black, flying zombie horses that explode when exposed to fresh water. That's what Microsoft is like now. These guys, these Nazgul ... They used to be kings. They were originally human beings, they had wives and children and futures, they had their own little nations to govern and manage. But then there was the One Ring -- One Ring to Rule Them All. One. And they couldn't resist. And they gave in.
It's not even about "Fear Uncertainty and Doubt" any more. The flavor of it has changed. If you look at it, it's all about Fear Uncertainty and Hate. "Where do you want to go today -- to give us some money, OR ELSE?"
And the answer -- the popular American answer, really a kind of consumer uprising here -- is: "I wanna go steal some MP3s!" That's the answer. "I wanna go pirate some Hollywood movies and keep 'em for myself, please!" And the reaction is: "Gee, our customers are criminals! They must be spied upon, lest they hurt us, and one another!"
The result is 95 percent market domination by Microsoft. But that's not a market economy. That's not even capitalism. That is a state-capitalist, state-sanctioned monopoly that Mussolini would have smiled on. Mussolini used to give the people of Italy free radios. But they would only tune in to the fascist station. This was supposed to be the only kind of radio that people in Italy understood. This was the entirety of Italian radio as a medium. Mussolini's radio had just one big dial on the front that said "Radio Zone."
The devices we're looking at now have that vibe to me. The contemporary PC, this is like hostility and paranoia made into a plastic consumer device. By Intel, and Dell. And Bill -- I don't sense that he's happy about this. The man seems troubled. He has a guilty conscience. He's vaccinating kids in Africa who don't have telephones, while kids in the USA who have Pentium 4s are spewing his viruses.
What the hell kind of industrial policy is that? Teddy Roosevelt would jump down off Mount Rushmore and kick our ass from hell to breakfast for tolerating such a situation. It's the Palladium Security State. It's an operating system that hates and fears you.
Microsoft Windows is slowly but surely becoming an armed terrorspace. It's like an airport. You go into an airport nowadays, it's really kind of amazing that the people who run them still expect you to spend money in there. They still pretend to you that you are this pampered jet-set consumer, instead of a captive under armed guard, which is what you are.
People in airports do horribly oppressive things to you. They go through your shoes, they empty your pockets. They confiscate various small but valuable items. "Where Do You Want to Go Today?" That's what they say in the airport, but there's this skeleton grin behind that question. There are men in camo with automatic weapons. There are surveillance cameras all over the place. You can't bring in your wife, your girlfriend or your grandmother without a ticket. You can't sob as you kiss your mother goodbye for the last time at the airport, because it's all on security tape. Then you wander into this rigid, bloated terrorspace, where, during every move and every action you undertake, it's presumed that you have swallowed dynamite and will cheerfully kill anyone you see.
And yes, that's also the contemporary computer system. The computer industry is really screwed up now. There are razor-thin returns on investment, because you are no longer allowed to invent anything or genuinely surprise anybody. And if you do, that will be immediately swept up into Microsoft's operating system, or even Apple's dinky little operating system. The computer industry is losing tons of money now.
All that boasting about the largest legal creation of wealth in history ... It's the largest semi-legal destruction of wealth in history. It blows my mind that these VC guys, who spent 20 years blathering about Ayn Rand capitalism, don't just admit that they live and work in a stagnant monopoly. What a bunch of limp-wristed sissies these captains of industry turned out to be, all these swaggering mercenaries so eager to punch out the bureaucrats in the free market. They're a race of slaves! They're like deer in the market's headlights, they creep around like mice.
It reminds me a lot of Metropolis. That old silent movie, with the robot that turns into a pretty girl? In that film, Metropolis, they've got this sweet-tempered liberal girl, who's trying to educate the workers' children. But she gets kidnapped by the corrupt oppressors from the top of the government. Then in comes this deranged operating system that moves like a woman ... The difference between the denizens of Metropolis and the movers and shakers in the computer industry is that the degraded proletarians are willing to rebel, while the Americans just moan and writhe in their sleep as their stock options go underwater.
It amazes me that the grocery boys in Silicon Valley don't just kick them unconscious and take their sports cars.