Posts Tagged ‘podcast’

The evil Apple empire

04 Nov

In Hazlett on Apple vs. Google, I expressed surprise that people view Apple as immoral for not being open enough–for putting limitations on how their products are used or sold. I argued that it was weird to be angry or outraged that Steve Jobs has a controlling personality, perhaps, or a dislike of Flash for some reason and as a result  makes his product less attractive. I could see why that would discourage you from buying the product–it doesn’t work well enough to suit your needs. But moral indignation strikes me as a peculiar response.

Jerry Brito responds:

Russ then likens a personal conviction to avoid closed products to some of his readers’ feelings of entitlement that they have a right to post a comment on his blog, and to a stranger thinking he has the right to take hot dogs from Russ’s backyard grill. I don’t think I have to explain why these analogies don’t hold up. What I would like to point out is that abstaining from certain products on moral grounds (and even hectoring friends to do the same) is not at all bizarre behavior. We see it all the time by animal lovers who won’t buy leather or products tested on animals, or people who avoid buying diamonds from conflict areas. I’m sure there are products Russ wouldn’t buy on moral grounds.

So if you honestly believe (and I don’t) that patronizing Apple will help contribute to the closing of the Internet, and you value that openness, especially for political reasons, you would be acting perfectly rationally by boycotting Apple.

Maybe Jerry misunderstood my point. I agree with him that there’s nothing wrong with having morality play a role in your purchases. What I find strange is viewing the openness of a product as a moral issue. If Apple limits the number of devices I can sync my iTunes purchases to, I’m less interested in buying songs on iTunes. Yes, I understand why you’d like a world of free music and total freedom to do what you want with your music. But how is Jobs’s decision immoral? Or if he makes all of the developers for the iPad use his Apps store, how is that immoral? It might be a bad business decision. But immoral? I don’t see it.

I do understand that the state enforcing property rights makes this more complicated. It’s not straightforward. Maybe, we’d be better off as consumers with a more open property rights regime and allow other mechanisms than the state to emerge as a way to encourage incentives for creativity and innovation. But the desire of many to end intellectual property is not open and shut. I view it as an empirical question, not a moral one.


Hugo Awards 2010: some of the best results in recent memory

05 Sep
Last night, the Hugo Awards, one of science fiction's most prestigious prizes, were presented in Melbourne at Aussiecon 4. The Hugo ceremony is one of my favorite parts of any WorldCon, and last night's event, emceed by Garth Nix, was a particularly outstanding edition. The ballot was extremely strong, with works that I really enjoyed competing in several categories. The voter and nominator turnout were both much higher than usual, and the program moved at a very, very good clip. This year's award, designed by Nick Stathopolous, was gorgeous, incorporating aboriginal motifs and an organic, Belle Époque look inspired by the Paris Metro signs. Kudos to the administrators on a smooth, well-run ceremony!

The fiction prizes were especially sweet this year. Best novel was an almost-unheard-of tie between China Mieville for his brilliant, mind-bending The City and the City and Paolo Bacigalupe for his stellar debut novel The Windup Girl. Best novella went to my collaborator Charlie Stross for Palimpsest, from his wonderful, mind-bending solo short story collection Wireless. Best novelette went to Peter Watts for The Island, from The New Space Opera 2. Boing Boing readers will remember Peter as the SF writer who was beaten and gassed near the US/Canada border when he got out of his car to ask why US customs officers were searching his car; he spent tens of thousands of dollars fighting the charge and the potential two-year sentence; was found guilty but received a suspended sentence. SF fans raised money to bring Peter to Australia, and his acceptance speech in which he called this the "best and worst year of his life," was brilliant. The best short story, which I presented, went to Will McIntosh for "Bridecicle," a lovely story.

Net-based media was a big winner this year: the podcast Starship Sofa (often presented here) won for Best Fanzine. And of course, there was Fred Pohl's Hugo for Best Fan Writer for his excellent blog The Way the Future Blogs.

Other categories whose winners made me especially glad include the Best Editor prize for my editor at Tor, Patrick Nielsen Hayden (this was his second prize in the very new category, and he has taken his name out of the running for next year). The graphic novel category went to Phil and Kaja Foglio's steampunk comic Girl Genius. The Campbell Award for best new writer to Seanan McGuire, whose heartfelt acceptance speech made me burst into tears. has the full list of nominees and winners here.