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Reading for April 19, 2010

  • The User’s Manifesto: In Defense Of Hacking, Modding, And Jailbreaking


    There’s a trend that’s been disturbing me lately. When the topic of modding or jailbreaking comes up — say, in the wake of the iPad announcement, or Sony’s restrictive PS3 update — there is an outcry. Who am I to tell Apple what’s best for their devices? How can I in good conscience urge others to void their warranties or break license agreements? And why should anyone care when only a small proportion of people hack or jailbreak their devices?

    These questions are natural, because a few years ago they wouldn’t even be possible. What reason would you have for breaking open an first-generation iPod, or hacking an original Playstation? The question of “unauthorized software” on System 9 and Windows XP was plainly moot. But as the capabilities of the PC, console, and phone have expanded, so have their magisteria. And as their power grew, so did their chains. These chains were so light before that we didn’t notice them, but now that they are not only visible but are beginning to truly encumber our devices, we must consider whether we are right to throw them off. The answer, to me at least, seems obvious: no company or person has the right to tell you that you may not do what you like with your own property.

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