Openness vs. Freedom

There has been a lot of fuss lately about the lack of openness on apple’s platform.  There is still time for things to change, and hopefully this ends as a win for developers and consumers, but unless Apple changes their tune there will be no winners, only losers.

The general consensus among the developers falls into two camps:

  1. Apple should open their platform and let people develop however they want.
  2. Objective-C and XCode is all roses, why use anything else?

Personally I fall in the first camp (which you probably guessed from my opening paragraph.)  I think it would be great if Apple’s platforms were open and I could use most any tool as long as I called the correct API and use the right UI controls.

At the same time I disagree with those who believe laws should be passed, or lawyers retained to regulate how open Apple makes their platform, all in the name of freedom.  I’ve got news for you, freedom means Apple can decide to not have an open platform.

I may disprove of Apple’s actions, but I will defend their right to do it.  That is what is known as freedom, and I will not give up freedom for the benefit of openness.  If I want openness to be an option in the future, then that means allowing Apple the freedom to have a closed platform today.

Giving up freedom for openness means loosing both.

Voltaire wrote “Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too,” which Evelyn Beatrice Hall summarized as “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Ben Franklin said “Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor Liberty to purchase power,” which was later paraphrased as “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”

Seeking to take away Apple’s freedom for the sake of openness is to sacrifice the very freedom that allows others to make open platforms.  So if we take away that freedom and we give up our freedom to be open.

I’ll just remind you of Hodges 1st Law before someone makes another car analogy, they don’t work anyway.

  1. There is no doubt that this their right. We will see what remains from all this in a few weeks. Apple has some tradtion is producing rumor before and Adobe + Apple rumor short before VS2010 launch –> Silverlight … – we will see.

  2. Freedom also means that people have the right to choose what to do with their personal property. An individual iPhone is the owner’s property, not Apple’s, and Apple does not have the freedom to decide what the owner can and can not do with it. In what kind of twisted world does this simple principle not make sense?

  3. Mason, it only makes sense in a world in which the iPhone, iPad, etc. is *not* your personal property, but is merely property leased to you by Apple/AT&T/etc. That’s the direction everything is moving – away from private property and towards a society where you own nothing, rent everything and are completely dependent on the whims of corporations for everything. And the upshot is that it’s perfectly legal – thank you, DMCA! Twenty years ago we would’ve laughed at this, circumvented the DRM and merrily coded apps in whatever language suited our fancy.

    It’s a Brave New World, indeed.

    Be well,
    Dave Haxton

  4. Didier Gasser-Morlay

    I agree with this blog:

    It’s the consumer absolute right to turn to other vendors …. Some will see fit to be and remain fully opened, some won’t. Consumers buying an iPhone, iPad, iWhatever know that they’ll get their music from iTunes, their apps from iSoft and their cigarettes from iSmoke;

    You believe it’s a mistake, so do I, and I’ll make it known to all my clients; but Apple/MS/whoever have got the right to make mistakes. It’s down to us, consumers, to vote with our feet and wallet, we have this freedom, let’s not involve yet more lawyers.

  5. Dave H: Exactly. And that’s why I say that the DMCA needs to be repealed and replaced with a law that recognizes DRM for what it is: an act of computer crime.

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