information, heroin and the corporate masters in t


Commodore of Impending Doom II
High-Tech Heroin
By Richard Forno
Posted: 15/09/2003 at 09:59 GMT

Opinion Dostoevsky once wrote that "in the end they will lay their freedom at our feet and say to us, 'Make us your slaves, but feed us.'" His prophecy is relevant when examining the modern Information Age -- a dark, corporate-controlled society predicted by such artistic legends as Bruce Sterling, George Lucas, Ridley Scott, and William Gibson ­ and is the focus of this article.

We want to be part of this information environment and feel more empowered with each new gadget, service, or digital connection in our lives. The concept of "information everywhere" provides instant gratification to satisfy our needs for books, music, porn, and digital interaction with others through web searches, e-commerce, wireless, instant messaging, e-mail, and streaming content over broadband. High-speed links enable organizations to operate around the world at light speed and conduct business on a twenty-four hour clock. The sun never sets in the Information Age; we are always plugged into the global matrix of the information domain. We're addicted to it and constantly awash in a sea of electronic stimuli.

Yet as we rush to embrace the latest and greatest gadgetry or high-tech service and satisfy our techno-craving, we become further dependent on these products and their manufacturers ­ so dependent that when something breaks, crashes, or is attacked, our ability to function is reduced or eliminated. Given the frequent problems associated with the Information Age - losing internet connections, breaking personal digital assistants, malicious software incidents, or suffering any number of recurring problems with software or hardware products, we should take a minute to consider whether we're really more or less independent - or empowered - today than we think, knowing that how we act during such stressful periods is similar to a heroin junkie's actions during withdrawal.

Technology, like gambling and heroin, is addictive. We're driven or forced into buying new gadgets and constantly upgrading our technology for any number of reasons, both real and perceived, and feel uncomfortable without our latest "fix." Corporations love this because once we accept and begin using their products or services, the dependency is formed and they essentially own our information ­ and subsequently, society and us. Their proprietary lock on our collective information means they can force us to spend money and upgrade on their schedule and not when we truly need - or can afford - to do so, regardless of whether or not we need the latest features, and regardless of the consequences that may haunt us down the road.

But unlike many other industries from the Industrial Age and the heroin dealers, high-tech corporations are in a unique position to determine - and force - us addicts to spend money while relinquishing our rights to seek recourse for damages arising from their faulty products no matter what pain we must endure during our period of indentured servitude and addiction to their problematic technologies. In some cases, particularly in mainstream operating systems, software, and internet-based services, it's one step short of blackmail. We all certainly can't go cold turkey very easily, although some may try and succeed.

To make things worse, government practically has outsourced the oversight and definition of technology-based expression and community interaction to for-profit corporations and secretive industry-specific cartels (e.g., the MPAA, RIAA, SIA, BSA, ICANN) which have wasted no time in rewriting the rules for how they want our information-based society to operate according to their interests, not ours. At times, you might even say we've voluntarily imprisoned ourselves under the control of profit-seeking wardens who have little if any real oversight or accountability for their actions. Our high-tech heroin dealers are not only promoting and profiting from their product but developing the laws and methods to govern and regulate its use while protecting themselves from any negative side-effects and ensuring their revenue stream.

Whether it is our ability to share available creative products according to existing laws, bring to market new creative works, establish an identity in cyberspace, or otherwise exchange digital information, these groups - with well-funded (read: purchased) government approval - have declared themselves the overlords of their industry-specific fiefdoms that comprise the Information Age. Each industry and vendor wants to assert their proprietary technical and legal authority over who does what, when, how, and under what conditions with their products and services, even if their profiteering desires are incompatible with our law-abiding ones. And if their efforts to maintain law and order according to their proprietary technical standards or legal trickery fail, they can always turn things over to the federal government for action as a backup plan.

Combining these perverts of profit with the fickle, often-ignorant nature of our elected lawmakers has produced an Information Age where the rights and abilities of the individual don't matter. Neither does facilitating society's evolution by allowing it to take maximum advantage of technology's capabilities for its collective benefit. Or reality. Today, what matters is only how much money and freedom people are willing (or forced) to pay (or sacrifice) to their corporate masters for the privilege of living within the various information-based fiefdoms provided for them to generate revenue.

The Information Age will not be remembered by the fun, high-flying and overwhelmingly feel-good Dot Com days despite the ongoing presence of Dot Com-developed technologies. Rather, the Information Age will be remembered as a period when 12-year old girls from New York slums, senior citizens, and innovative college students are harrassed by greedy cartels seeking to scare their future customers into submission; when the profit goals of high-tech vendors determine how client businesses and people are organized and interact; when everyone is presumed a potential criminal until proven otherwise according to oppressive industry-defined criteria; when a once-awesome revolution in global communications became converted into a cesspool of unsolicited and offensive marketing messages; when knowing how to do something that's illegal is just as illegal as actually doing something that's illegal; when the legal protections over freedom of speech are trumped to preserve corporate secrets or market share while hiding vulnerabilities that endanger the public; when our lives are monitored and dissected by marketing firms looking for the best way to sell us things we don't need or want; and when technology's promise and alluring capabilities are used to surreptitiously entrap and willingly imprison members of the information-age society instead of truly empowering them.

Dostoevsky was way ahead of his time.

© 2003 by Author. All Rights Reserved. Permission granted to redistribute this article in its entirety with credit to author.


Commodore of Impending Doom II
Old post, but quite relevant.

Anyone. Post your opinion on our high-tech heroin society.


An Old Post.....but ohhhhhhhhhh so so relevant,and more so today.I hope everyone takes the time to read this.You only have to look back 15 years to when PC's etc. were a luxury,and I remember well the days of the Commodore and also the first music programs and using them on an Atari512 with a dot matrix printer.A Person really has to wonder,where this is all leading,and when will it all stop....OR will it.?????????? Thanks for that Michel/Priest,the article is full of the "TRUTH".
at work,many would say....I am inclined to agree,even taking peoples differing beliefs into consideration...some "Force" is at work,and we all have to think twice now,before jumping into the "abyss" of life.We just cannot afford to be "carefree" anymore....if not for ourselves,but for our children and their childrens' children etc.....


Commodore of Impending Doom II
But the worst is... as the tech-addict I am, I embrace this development, making it easier, faster etc. to work and do the things I like within the fields of creative media.

I can't live without a cell phone, net uplink, and whatever hightech gadgets I use. They are integrated in my life. It's a matter of merging with the new technology. It is not a matter if it's the best way to go. But sometimes it is the only.


I think everyone on this planet would agree with you...Take away all these "Mod-Hi-Tech" thingos and most of us would not know what to do.The oldies did without them,and many of them are lost now.However,I am the same.
Rely now on all these things.Know what You Mean.

Marek Michalak

New member
Intresting article and it holds much truth I think and I agree with the main points it gets to.

It's a spiral, it's never ending and it's turning faster and faster. It's one big contradiction. We need to pay more and more money for the "added value" of technology products which have an extended lifetime and yet development cycles become shorter and shorter making every previous development obsololete sooner and sooner. And those game-defining companies are in joy of the two-fold profit they make.

Everything is carried out under the assumptions that we want everything that they give to us, that is incerases our quality of life and that he hence are willing to pay more and more for it for the added value.

Companies getting so scared that their products might be pirated that everything is done to protect the product from the customer that sometimes one might wonder why a company sells this or that if it's so afraid of illegal use (or rather, use from which no direct profit can be dervied).

And yet we do our own fair share to remain in the sprial. We want mobiles phone, not only to get a phone call if we are late one minute for dinner but also to play games on the communter train, or watch TV or play music or do whatever else some company invents and sells for "our good". Most absurd online services find their customers willing to pay.

All this is getting blown up more and more and like a baloon one day in the futue it's likely to explode when it can't anymore. But then some new system will quickly come into place to which people get addicted.....or are made addictced to.

My tw cents....