Software ideology

I left Facebook quite loudly a few years back. Then I left Instagram after realizing it was not only a similar bastion for ego-flogging coolness (myself included), but also a subsidiary of Facebook.

I have long been comfortable in the simpler forms of word processing, and have gravitated to open-source software for my Linux computer. It fits better with many of the chores I undertake daily, the radio work I do, and my ideology. I never liked the group-editing functions Microsoft Word offered, finding it to be less clear and more prone to mistakes than doing drafts that got tossed in a final edit.

I’ll admit it. When I was still laying out newspapers, I didn’t get far past Adobe Pagemaker in its last iterations. And if I want to work fast, I still prefer old-style cut, paste, and waxing.

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Second admission: I’m finding myself unable to resist the Google universe. The library where I work operates in nothing else; everything is Chrome, Drives, Sheets and Gmail. Same with my son’s school, which insists on the use of Google/Chrome platforms for all it does.

My best friend from college is high up at Google, brought from The New York Times to help their executives frame sentences. He’s lectured me in all the good that Google does, versus Facebook, Twitter and so on. They try to fix the problems they see. Their dominance in libraries and schools isn’t the result of hostile takeovers. They offer services for free, or very good prices.

No matter. I still find their versions, shares, and threads cumbersome and more opaque than helpful. Sure, things could be better if I got with the Google program fully. But Google ChromeOS doesn’t allow open-source software on its platform. It pushes purchases of more of its own products. Same with Apple and Amazon, and so on. They not only don’t support my way of working and the work I do, but they actively work against it.

I know what they want. Is that what I want?


Read more installments of Village Voices by Paul Smart.