On Breaking Up Tech Companies

On Breaking Up Tech Companies

I try to stay away from politics, and will definitely stay away from advocating for or against parties or candidates, but sometimes—quite frequently in fact—politics and technology impact one another. And don’t even mention my other activities in religion!

I read a post today calling for a breakup (perhaps) of Adobe along with other tech companies, and the arguments used reminded me of the overlap of a problem we have in biblical studies with the way laws are made and applied.

That overlap? Proof-texting!

Proof-texting essentially uses words from the Bible (or another book regarded as authoritative) to provide whatever result you want. It’s not a question of whether the text actually supports your position. Can it be stretch, shrunk, or reshaped to support your position?

Similarly with policy, we very often don’t look at the actual result of a law being applied broadly, but we instead look for the particular result we want. Tech companies are too big? Well, let’s get the government to break them up! The media isn’t reporting the way I want it to? Let’s get the government to force a change!

Even without laws to specifically censor, simply the threat of congress investigating, for example, forces changes in the way tech companies behave.

Don’t like the way software is designed? Perhaps a regulatory solution would help.

Now Adobe, referenced in the article, is a big player, particularly in my job. There’s a reason for that. Despite all complaints, not a small number of which are mine, Adobe does a good job in producing software for design, publishing, and video. I use these products because they help me do my job faster.

I used to use Scribus, and I strongly recommend it for use where it will work. I still keep it installed on my systems. But with Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator I have a much faster workflow, including production of footnotes in the formats I like and fairly complex tables and lists. I can also edit my graphics in place. It takes a large, integrated company to make that work well.

In producing video, which is a tough task for me, I use Premiere Pro and work it together with Audition, Photoshop, and Illustrator. Why? I can create video with captions, labels, icons, and various other elements edited right in place. I have other software on this system and also on my Ubuntu Linux system that will make videos, but nothing with this efficient of a workflow. For Audio, I have the opensource program Audacity, which is great. In fact, I like it better than Audition—when I don’t have to work with video at the same time.

For graphics I have GIMP and Inkscape, but I use those more rarely simply because of the integration.

Thus I have alternatives all around, but it’s still worth it for me to pay one of my largest single monthly payments for my company in order to have the Adobe Creative Cloud. It saves me more than it costs.

My point here is that we do have alternatives. We can use different software. We have the potential to make our own networks. I note with interest that people angry with Facebook tend to keep right on using it, whether they believe it is censoring the right, the left, or everybody in general.

People who hate Amazon.com keep on buying from them. Why? Because they know how to produce a good consumer experience.

So why don’t we just fix our little problems with a law? We could make the companies we hate smaller and the ones we like larger. We could force everyone to publish what we believe is the truth and ignore other opinions.

The problem is this: Whatever excessive power you think these companies have, it is nothing to what the government has and will have if it’s given power to regulate what you’re going to hear, see, or what software you’re going to use.

People have the power of the market. The problem is not that we are forced to use things we don’t want to use, or hear things we don’t want to hear. The problem is that we keep on going with the crowd even when we despise what the crowd is doing.

If you hate a company, go use another one. Believe it or not, there are even alternatives to giving all your trade to Google for search.

As for the government, the one thing we should be watching out for is when they empower the major companies and start to squeeze out the smaller ones. And believe me, as they get the power to censor the big companies, they’ll be busy squeezing out smaller players through their regulations. Count on it.

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