[UK] Information about the think tank Doteveryone

Paul Boddie paul at boddie.org.uk
Wed Oct 4 15:41:38 UTC 2017

On Wednesday 4. October 2017 15.56.46 Adonay Felipe Nogueira wrote:
> I think there also needs to be more work on their part on how to define
> "ethical tech choices", see:
> <https://medium.com/doteveryone/want-to-make-more-ethical-tech-choices-try-
> check-your-tech-3c05bcb28faf>.
> Of course, this is not to say that this is a severe problem, it just
> means that it needs to be worked over time --- and hope for them to
> understand the reasons for our view of "ethical tech choices".

It is nice that they are trying to address the problems associated with choice 
and technology, but I fear that the "consumer-focused" perspective will result 
in the same kind of attitude shown by organisations like the Consumers' 
Association (also known as "Which?"), where every last problem in society can 
supposedly be remedied by having everyone constantly monitoring every little 
aspect of their lives so that they might "switch providers" at a moment's 
notice (where this is even appropriate) and deliver some kind of consumer 
justice to bad companies.

Unfortunately, people don't always have the time to constantly check 
everything in their lives, adjust their habits by swiping left or right, or 
whatever, and tune their lifestyles to be completely optimal. Millions of 
people remain in bad customer-business relationships not because they are lazy 
or ignorant (which is the tone often used by the "empowered consumer" 
organisations), but because switching banks, phone companies, and other 
providers can be a lot of work for which such people don't have the time or 
energy, certainly not on a regular basis.

There is also the matter of addressing "popular" concerns while ignoring 
systemic flaws in products and services. So, to take an example, while 
Fairphone pursued the worthy goals of using materials from ethical sources and 
making sure that the employees of the manufacturer were well-treated, the 
matter of sustainable and durable software technology was marginalised. That 
has left the first phone unsupported and probably threatens the second one, 
despite the problems of industry-wide licence violation being known about for 

Free Software is an essential part of making technology that lasts and is fair 
to its users, but it can be argued that many people regard it as some kind of 
peripheral lifestyle choice, like the tedious and superficial "Mac or PC" 
choice that you can still see mentioned in various places online, or which 
sports team you happen to support. Such marginalisation results in flawed 
products and services that could have been viable had people understood the 
role of software instead of having a simple-minded "it's all ones and zeros" 

Until these organisations properly recognise the value of Free Software and 
the importance of related matters such as interoperability and transparency, 
many of their activities and recommendations will be ineffective.


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