Blog of Sara Jakša

What are similarity in Windows vs. Linux and Social Media vs. Blog

I am right now programming a mobile app for researching ones experience, so I am getting more and more into the sphere of Android and iOS and react-native. The people I worked with asked me, if I wanted my own Mac computer. I have to admit, if one is satified with not having every functionality, then one does not need a mac. I know that the first demo version just worked on the mac. But there are still things, that are hard (or impossible) to do without it - like notifications.

But when I got the questions about getting a Mac, I was thinking about my own workflow. I have right now both Windows and Arch Linux installed on my system. But I can clearly see, which one do I prefer. When I had a research project during my cognitive science studied, we were using Atlas.ti for analyzing data. Well, installing Atlas.ti on Linux was imposisble for me (believe me, I tried), so every time I wanted to continioue the analysis, I needed to log into Windows. And that was a battle. Every. Single. Time. There was something about it, that I really did not like it.

I took note of it as one of my twerks at the time, and I did not go any further into it. Until very recentlly, when I realized that I got a very similar feeling. The topic of that feeling. Surprisingly my tablet. And here I was more aware, of where was this feeling comming from. And this is from the complete frustration of not making the tech work the way I wanted it to. Ofcourse, the newest version of Android for my tablet was one below the minimal one needed for react-native. And ofcourse, installing the newer version of Android does not have any clear instructions. And ofcourse, the most frequent thing, that come up when searching for the solution was the possibility of making a brick out of the tech. I mean, it is just a piece of tech, I can't be the only one who wanted to to this?! Is that what people talk about when they talk about planned obselency?!

As somebody that has been having Linux as my primary operating system and somebody that was never a big user of smartphones and tablets, I found this frustrating. To me it is obious, that it is the user that controls the system, and not the system that forces user to comform to it. I am the one that decides what is not my system (something that Windows and Android don't really agree with), I decide when things get upgrated (ditto) and I decide when do I use what. If I don't like something, I can change each single part of the system in the way that I wanted. If I don't have the skills, then I can learn or pay somebody else to do it.

But maybe these things are not that obious to other people. On the last python meetup, I was speaking with a firend, and she mentioned that somebody she knows was thinking about changing the operating system. And the videos explaning how to do it were using the command line. That convined them (I think it was a he, but I am not sure, so them) to no use it. And they were looking things for Ubuntu, where most things that a normal computer user would want to do, can be done through graphical interface.

Maybe this is why we end up with stories like this. Where the technology is starting to make the job of the doctors harder. It is interesting, that they are solving it by hiring a sort of a secretary.

Sure, then I came accross the Free Software Fundation which also touch upon some of these same points, that annoy me (you can read their story The Right to Read, it is great).

But beside this, that also reminded me of what I have listened in a youtube video or two from Tristan Harris. He talks about how social media (and possible other things as well, my memory may be a bit lacking) are designed in a way to addict us. He goes into how this is tied into how the value of these companies is calculated and their monitizing model, but this is not important for my argument. Is seems that social media, with all their design restrictions and the way they are controlled, and even social expectations in place, they are the same type of system like Android and Windows.

What is the more Linux like system? Blogging. I am not the first one, that has noticed that. There are recent articles from Cal Newport, that touch upon that. One example is comparing social media to AOL or how social media compare to blogs. Everybody can start the blog (or their website). They can put anything they want on there. It can look in anyway it can (which profiles on social media can not). Nobody has the right to delete your content (which can happen with social media). Nobody can stop you from being there (which is true for social media). The book Technically Wrong has a couple of good examples about it. (Is it bad, that when I say the writting of the book on the site - "Recommended for all readers interested in the intersection of technology and social justice" - I was thinking of deleting this sentence?)

Maybe that is why, I also get frustrated by the social media all the time, but in the years of writting this blog, I had not once become frustrated about it? I originally thought this is because using social media is a social situation (with all social expectations), but writting for this blog is something I do for myself. But maybe this is another possible explanation. I get frustrated not because of the socialiness of the situation, but because of the loss of control? I guess this would be the best description.

Tis weekend, when I went hiking with a friend, he asked me, why I no longer have a LinkedIn account. And I told him, that I had no positive results from it. He gave me a couple of reasons, why this was so. Better economy, I am soon not going to be a student anymore. I started working. And so on. And then I mentioned that we both know at least two people, that if I told them, that I need a job in a next couple of months, I would get it, without me needing to do anything else.

Is there any social media, that can say that? I would guess not. Instead, I can simply eliminate another source of frustration from my life.