Friday, July 02, 2010

E@L At The End Of His Tethering Tethered Tether

A Russian guy emailed me a while ago asking for H.G. Wells' last book which I had mentioned a while ago in this blog. He says he couldn't get a copy of "Mind At The End Of Its Tether" in Russia (in English). While I mentioned in that old post about scanning the short book at work, I was unable to do that as I could not borrow the book. I am not a member of the public library here.

When I pointed this out to him, he asked me to go to the Singapore Library (he almost insisted), take secret photos of the book and email them to him. Certain amount of admirable bravura there, right? I was rather miffed that he, a person I didn't know, would impose so much and expect me to infringe copyright laws so blatantly to make a complete stranger happy and there being nothing in it for me particularly when there is a high danger of me being caught... and caned.

Maybe he thought I was the risk taking type. No way. I have very few Dopamine receptors and these are easily saturated. Yes, my thrill-seeking needs are satisfied with such simple things as making dinner, or taking onboard the stress and anxiety of leaving the flat in the morning - I am quite agitated and fearful about the articles necessary for my employment or entertainment (often my headphones) that I have inevitably left behind on the dining room table, or on the bench beside the toilet bowl. I am strange like that.

But I was mystified as to why Mr Russia would go to such lengths as to email me (like it's hard to find me) to obtain a copy of Wells' weird and almost unreadable diatribe.

Maybe Mr Russia liked "War Of The Worlds" and thought this might be similar? So, rather accept this mission, I sent him a link to Amazon. D'uh.


Tethering. Tethered. Tether.

Pronunciation: \ˈte-thər\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English tethir, teder, probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse tjōthr tether; akin to Old High German zeotar pole of a wagon
Date: 14th century
1 : something (as a rope or chain) by which an animal is fastened so that it can range only within a set radius
2 : the limit of one's strength or resources "at the end of my tether"


Shortly after Sony released their mirroless NEX-3 and NEX-5, they released the first firmware upgrade today. Got my Sony NEX-5 two days ago (review and pics later), and I can say this update came at the best time. So what’s new with this firmware? Sony added 3D sweep panorama (but only viewable on their own Sony Bravia TV, gee!). Hong Kong Tech Phooey

This is a recent example of electronic tethering. HKPhooey is roped and chained to another Sony product (which he may not even have) if he is to fully utilize his new Sony product.

[Aside: Both products, being manufactured Sony, are carefully (and expensively) designed to fail a short time after their warranties have expired. A small but crucial projection of plastic will petrify after a certain time of exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun and will snap away. A switch will fail after a certain unavoidable build up of dust interposes itself between the contacts, etc... There are thousands of way to make an expensive device such as a camera functionally collapse after a certain time. Beyond that, new designs and new technologies and new marketing campaigns and the pressure for middle class conspicuous consumption (or status anxiety) can make the purchaser regret his earlier decision and feel inescapably forced into grabbing the latest supposedly 'better' model.]

An article that once would be described as an asset has, through its impermanence, become a consumable.

Henri Carter-Bresson used the same Leica camera with a single 50mm lens for many years.

HKPhooey buys a new camera every 20mins it seems. I'm not so bad: after 12 years in the electronic discount world of Asia I have only bought three cameras, seven or eight phones [two, maybe three of them were lost] and one video camera. OK maybe seven MP3 players as well. (Though I am tempted by a similar Four-Thirds model to the Sony, Panasonic's LumixGF1)


Apple iStore, iPod, iPhone, iPad, and their dependence upon iTunes... These are the most famous, profitable and obvious examples of product tethering. They show how successful is the semi-universally acknowledged truth of the immense corporate importance on products being branded or tethered. And they reveal how the limitations thereby imposed on the products pass with blind acceptance to a large section of the consuming (i.e Western) public.

It boils down to the acceptance of enforced restriction of product requirements by consumers augmenting the profits of corporations. You have to buy from us, no question.

The supposed foundation of capitalism, Competition, is removed from the equation. The greatest complaint against unrestrained capitalism comes to life - the creation of Monopolies - and everyone in the $299.99 purchasing demographic capitulates to its inevitability, embraces it, even praises it. But there is a price to pay. There is now a hold over millions of consumers and this has become centralized, in this case with iTunes. If iTunes goes down, all of the associated products will eventually fail as well, because there is no (legal) third party, no fourth party, no way out of the Apple loop.

This is the future of the internet and potentially of other appliances and commodities in general.

IPods, iPhones, Xboxes, and TiVos represent the first wave of Internet-centered products that can’t be easily modified by anyone except their vendors or selected partners. These “tethered appliances” have already been used in remarkable but little-known ways: car GPS systems have been reconfigured at the demand of law enforcement to eavesdrop on the occupants at all times, and digital video recorders have been ordered to self-destruct thanks to a lawsuit against the manufacturer thousands of miles away. New Web 2.0 platforms like Google mash-ups and Facebook are rightly touted — but their applications can be similarly monitored and eliminated from a central source. As tethered appliances and applications eclipse the PC, the very nature of the Internet — its “generativity,” or innovative character — is at risk. Jonathon Zittrain, The Future of The Internet

When the big corporations, such as Apple, want us acquiescent and silent, what can we do except...


I foresee that day when Reebok shoes will not 'work' if you are wearing Nike socks.

When Fisher and Pykel refrigerators only accept New Zealand products.

When Westinghouse washing machines only accept Omo powder.

How fucking annoying the future will be...


"The future, according to some scientists, will be exactly like the past, only far more expensive. John Sladek

"The future ain't what it used to be." Yogi Berra

"If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever." George Orwell

"When did the future switch from being a promise to a threat? Chuck Palahniuk


I'm tethered at the end of my tethering tether.



Tim F said...

Maybe he wasn't really a Russian. Maybe he was a Singaporean cop, trying to entrap you in an act of copyright violation. And then he'd get to spank you.

expat@large said...

Tim: Entrapment - yes it has that delectable BDSM ring to it... As an Englishman I'm sure you'd respect that...

Certainly my "Russian" correspondent's written English seemed as poor as that of many a Singaporean secret policemen! (Hi guys!) And I merely surmise this for jocular effect, as I've never had occasion to chat with one of the Lion-State's megapodians - though as I continue to blog such seditious material no doubt that time is fast approaching. I *was* hugged by a cop in Koh Samui last week [but that's another story].

knobby said...

you'll enjoy this if you haven't already seen it:

i thought it was terrific. i myself am not exactly a big consumer of stuff but thought his idea of synthetic happiness being good for psychological immunity was spot on when he presented other examples like the one about the photographs.

expat@large said...

Knob: yes I saw that recently, very good... A lot of this sort of stuff is in "The Happiness Hypothesis" by Jonathon Haidt. There's a lot of "Happiness" stuff around but this one, of the three or four I have read (owned), is recommended.

dibabear said...

Well watch where that tether tethers lest you end up like Michael Hutchence. Swinging with your participle dangling is certainly no way to treat Sir Bob.

The trouble with the internet is the same problem as in a pure democracy. Eventually it collapses under its own weight just as any truly fully democratic country sinks by having to put everything to a plebiscite.

By the way, BlackBerry is even more nefarious than Apple. It is extremely difficult to use their phone for anything other than telephony unless you buy the BIS package from your carrier. They then remotely turn on internet access on the phone for a nominal monthly fee. Even if you have wifi and don't need push email.

Unknown said...

Well Phil I agree with you but.......the new iPhone 4 is so hot even I am thinking of buying one. I have studiously ignored anything proprietary in the Audio and Video stakes for years, but I am seriously considering the dark side.

expat@large said...

Yes, Dib: the purpose of all retail and service companies is to take your money and, if possible, keep on taking it. I don't need push email, it's not an option anyway.

Bludge: if my iPhone3 hadn't developed this semi-dead home button at 14mths (2 months after warranty expired), I guess I be happy enough with it, still tied to Apple, but I don't buy much stuff on iShopmyfuckingheartout, usually only take the free things. Mind you a) my iPod was free from a conference and b) my iPhone came free with a package my company pays for.

It's only this iMac at home that I've paid for - and it crashed 50 times in the first weekend. Had to take it and get it sorted - needed to reformat the HDD.

expat@large said...

p.s. I did BUY the first iPhone from Spike in HK, but Izzy now uses that as her iTouch when partying in The Hague.

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