Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Best Kind of Censorship

Is when they can get you to do it to yourself.

The issue that the App Store reviewers did find with the Ninjawords application is that it provided access to other more vulgar terms than those found in traditional and common dictionaries, words that many reasonable people might find upsetting or objectionable. ... The Ninjawords developer then decided to filter some offensive terms in the Ninjawords application and resubmit it for approval for distribution in the App Store before parental controls were implemented. Apple did not ask the developer to censor any content in Ninjawords, the developer decided to do that themselves in order to get to market faster. ... You are correct that the Ninjawords application should not have needed to be censored while also receiving a 17+ rating, but that was a result of the developers' actions, not Apple's.

Recently we've seen Apple flex its monopoly muscle in a number of incidents ranging from blocking Google's Voice App (it's still not clear whether that was Apple or AT&T, but it hardly matters) to blocking music service that might compete with iTunes. The whole process reads like a chapter straight out of Jonathan Zittrain's book The Future of the Internet And How To Stop It. You can download the book at that site, and it is well worth reading; the thinking goes far beyond the dust-jacket summary that tends to exhaust the intellectual content of many of the long blog entries that pass for books these days. The basic idea remains simple though -- if we get ourselves into a situation where we no longer have open networks, open devices, and open platforms, we will dramatically constrain the creativity that was fostered by anybody being able to program their computer, hook it up to internet, and distribute their program for everyone else to use. In other words, you don't buy an iPhone, you rent it.

UPDATE: Christ, I'm repeating myself again.

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