Software and Computer Engineering

I Do Not Appreciate It When Software Pushes Me Around

Software is everywhere in the modern world: it shapes the economy, powering logistics and supply chains, intra-country and inter-coutry financial systems. It enables designing the very buildings we live in, the cars that allow us to go across the city, and the planes that allow us to cross the globe.

Also, in many ways, the computing platforms of today have become an extension of the human experience.

Pretty much every person from a developed or developing country, from pretty much every level of income, interact daily with a smartphone on their own personal time. Adding to that, a massive fraction of the adult workforce from those same countries relies on computers, at least at some capacity, during their work time.

Given the outsized impact of software in particular -- and information systems in general -- on how we spend both our personal and professional time, I really do not appreciate it when it is designed to push me around.

Computing platforms are an extension of ourselves, of our will and of our own capabilities. When a person learns a new skill on a computer, such as using a spreadsheet software, that person has gained a tool to enhance their thinking process.

Every piece of software design that goes against allowing oneself to exert their own will -- on the very hardware that they've purchased, no less -- is tyrannical. That also includes applications designed -- both accidentally and by design -- to be addictive.

There's a massive amount of money to be made not by allowing users to assert their own choices, but instead through pressuring and nudging their behavior to some externally-motivated goal, and that's really a pity.

Having in mind that landscape, I've really come to realize how it's a miracle that Free -- as in freedom -- and Open Source Software exists and how much economic growth -- and, indirectly, well-being -- it has generated for the whole humanity precisely by not being profit-motivated.