There are way too many entitled “hackers” running around shouting and ranting about “freedom” and these other supposed high ideals they hold and its about time someone called bullshit on all of them. The most annoying of these rants revolve around the following topics: ‘Open’ software, Piracy, and Twitter’s API. The theme of these rants as it pertains to all of these topics is basically one of two (sometimes two) ideas; that X is evil because it’s not open or we have the right to X. It’s all bullshit. Here’s why. (Warning: This is a rant about rants. I get the irony, you’re not clever for pointing it out.)
You’re not morally superior to anyone
Before I debunk the bullshit, let me say that one defining feature of these rants is that they espouse high ideals. These hackers get on their high horse and talk as if they have some sort of moral high ground because they support “open” software and “freedom”. Because any software that’s closed source is evil, you know, and we should be free to do anything any time and we shouldn’t have to pay and at the same time dictate the terms that any free service is provided to us with. Give me a break.
Open Software (OSS FLOSS included)
Just about every day a new piece of software is released into the world. Then some hacker uses it and decides it sucks. You know what would make this better? If it were open, the hacker decides. Why? Some vague excuse about community vetting, customization, blah blah. Another hacker reads or overhears the first and a rant is born. Invevitably the hackers pile on and write in their blogs about how awful Microsoft/Apple/Google Product X is because it’s different than the other versions and totally not open source. It should be open source, they all cry, as if they have the right to view the source code. You don’t! I don’t give a shit what the Almighty Richard Stallman (Jesus bless his name) says. The fact of the matter is, someone else wrote a piece of software and decided to distribute it in the way they chose. That means you have two choices. Live with the fact you don’t have the source or go use or even build something else. Simple.
Hackers think piracy is okay. They mince words and have an infinite amount of excuses to justify their stealing (go ahead, pedantically mince words all day long about the term “stealing” but at the end of the day it doesn’t make piracy okay) of other people’s work against their wishes. “Oh, but because it’s digital there are infinite copies and the work is only necessary once”. Fuck you, that’s excuse. Someone created something and charged for it. They put it on their distribution platform and gave you a way to pay for it. If you circumvent that process you’re depriving that person of sales and violating their rights. Hackers love to talk about right but only their own. Somehow everything’s justified when it’s their rights on the line but they give a big old fuck you to everyone else. Inevitably someone says “well, it’s not out in my country. I want to pay but I can’t, they make the process so hard that they basically encourage me to pirate it”. Wow. Do these people hear themselves talking? These are excuses plain and simple. Wait for the fucking DVD to come out or something. Or, just don’t buy it. You’ll live. If you’re going to pirate media at least be honest with yourself instead of making excuses as to why it’s somehow okay when you do it.
So Twitter pulled a dick move and has totally clamped down on usage of their API. I mean hard. It really hurt a lot of developers and they’re very rightly and understandably upset. As a developer myself I could never sit here and say that hackers are unjustified in being pissed at Twitter. What is unjustified however is all this talk about Twitter should do this or that and how we somehow have the right to their API, etc. etc. It’s been a while now and at this point we need to go ahead and let it go. Twitter is offering you a free service and you’re not entitled to shit. Now, this part of my rant about rants is mostly directed at those who want, plan, or have never been affected by the API change. Granted it was a dick move on Twitter’s part but there are a lot of hackers who have never even touched the API that are all of the sudden ranting about freedom and rights. Now that’s just laughable because they were never affected! They’re just ranting about something that could or may potentially affect them! Get off your high horse guys. It’s just Twitter. They give it to you for free. And guess what, there are still companies out there that give you access to many parts of the API that you’re pissed about losing. It’s kind of how Twitter is going to stay in business. They charge companies to grant access to the firehose, developers pay the company, Twitter makes money, devs make money, and everyone is happy. Except they’re not because all of the sudden people not only want all their online services for free but they want to tell the company how to run those services on top of it. Sorry to break it to you, but Twitter isn’t for hackers. It’s for regular people and entrepreneurs. When I say entrepreneurs I mean that subset of hackers that understands how to make a buck and know that Twitter also needs to make a buck for you to get your free ride on their platform.