I hate the "own your data" meme in the decentralized social web. A friend of mine pointed out how useless the phrase is a few years ago and I agree. "Ownership" sounds an awful lot like digital "property", which is nonsense when moving from physical to digital stuff because copying doesn't destroy the original. The path you go down there is the path to artificial constraints like DRM. Yikes!

We should be talking about user autonomy instead. That's a much better meme.

@cwebber In a similar vein, Sarah Jamie Lewis has put out some thoughts on framing
"decentralize" as more specifically "untrust" ,
and arguing that privacy is equivalent to consent:

@cwebber yes please

I already “own” a lot of data. I've got a bunch of exports from old web accounts sitting on my hard disk, but it's a pointless exercise when the only way I can make use of said data is grep.

@cwebber When looking at the rust world, their definition of ownership is quite interesting:

You own something, when you have the right to destroy it.

From that perspective "Own your data" still makes sense. You should be the person who is able to destroy/delete your data in a way that it's really gone.

I hope that makes sense.

@sheogorath @cwebber It makes sense, and that's the problem. That's exactly the kind of ownership DRM enforces.

@cwebber own your info-space. own your cyberland. become master of a domain of all the information you've gathered & have chosen to build yourself & your cyberkingdom upon.

So the motto would be "don't let big data companies sell you bridges. Build your own instead." (Insert joinmastodon link here)

Or how about this:

"Don't let facebook decide what you should read. Reclaim your digital freedom with community-run social networks."

Even better:

"When you can't control what YOU see on youtube, it's not YOUTube anymore, but THEYTube. But who is THEY?

Follow the money."

Edit: typos (sorry 😅 )

@cwebber agreed. I think it's important to give non-technical users of digital and social media similes and metaphors to hang onto as they're introduced the more complex aspects, and abandon the metaphors when it breaks down.

This is a HARD thing to do which is why there's so much misunderstanding when it comes to explaining the new realm of the digital 🙄

@cwebber Interesting, but destroying the original or having only one copy isn't really relevant to me, so I fail to see the argument here. I use it as a shorthand for keeping your data in a place you control, while being able to move it elsewhere if you choose. It's just a nice shorthand. If you have a suggestion for a better three-word phrase I'm all ears but "user autonomy" sounds like robots.

@aaronpk It's about who gets to you. Facebook decides who gets into your bubble if you are using Facebook. Three words: control your bubble.

I guess that sounds like a different problem. That's definitely also an issue worth solving, and "control your bubble" is cute. I don't think that means "own your data" shouldn't also be a goal though.

@aaronpk If you claim to "own your data" you put a claim on someone else's disk drive. Why? It's more important that your data won't be abused.

@cwebber @aaronpk freedom falls into that "free as in speech/beer" kind of chat. In the case of people who produce art and the likes, having a sense of authority over the content they produce is _vital_ (even if it's under an open license - discovery and credit is very useful). I know for a fact that I'd hate to have my content misused.

@cwebber "User" has its own set of problems too, like connotations with drug use, which is particularly a problem when we're talking about making things that are alternatives to Facebook/Twitter which are known to create addictive behavior.

It's also not a term from an individual's perspective. People don't think of themselves as users of software, only the software authors do.

@cwebber i mean, i guess? personally i don't care about "own your data" or "user autonomy" except in the abstract. what i'm *really* interested in is making my life easier and simpler, which basically boils down to "interoperability" for the moment. the biggest digital problem i have is not ownership or autonomy -- self-hosting stuff is not *impossible*. my biggest problem is that none of this stuff matters if i can't apply it to my real-world usage, if i can't talk to my friends or share stuff.

@cwebber let's take a big hypothetical leap and say that ethical services are the norm, and all the big players suddenly allow users to export their data easily or selfhost their own versions of the software. that's great, but it solves nothing if i can't port my data between services, or talk to people on other networks. and sure, data portability is probably part of true ownership, but that still doesn't guarantee full interop if import/export is the only thing you can do.

@cwebber and at the same time, i'd really appreciate it if all this stuff in my life doesn't force me to use one device, or give it a phone number, or use it only in a web browser. having this be the norm is going to take massive cooperative effort, and it's not something that can cleanly be put in the bucket of "autonomy" or "ownership", because it is fundamentally a social problem.

@cwebber But waaay harder to communicate successfully. There's a reason why the somewhat twisted term of "stealing" digital content worked and still works. It's something Joe user understands.

@cwebber I never usually say “this”, but THIS THIS THIS

@mala @cwebber We find it difficult to conceptually separate ownership and control. Thanks, capitalism!

@cwebber I don't see how this leads to DRM.

Also regarding ownership, the lack of "ownership" or rather the candid autonomy of what someone can, shouldn't and can't do with data is something that plagued Twitter and young people for a long time.

Granted, something like OCAP and what you're working on could help enforce that ;)

@jalcine @cwebber while I agree that autonomy fulfils a large part of what I understand by “own my own data”, it doesn’t quite accomplish it.

My data, my works, my reviews, my opinions, all of these things are the product of my Labour. I should “own” them, whether by preservation of control or preservation of right of disposal, they shouldn’t be in the control and disposal of someone else. If I dedicate them to the commons, then so be it. I don’t want to dedicate them to Dorsey’s yacht fund, or Zuck’s.

@cwebber @arcans you can’t compare data like commercial music or film that is meant to be copied, the industry just wants to be paid for each copy, with private data that people have a right to keep private

@cwebber definitely! Rights and control are much more important than ownership. And *always* when people talk about users owning their own data, they're only a sentence away from talking about users *selling* their own data, which is just ... urgh.

@floppy @cwebber I work with people who have never been online before and get them on their own website" own your data" resonates "file autonomy" would mean nothing to my students.

And owning my data does mean I can sell my own shit and no one else can (accept that with CC 0 or CC-BY-SA then everyone can) , not giving away royalty free license to social media I get to sell my data

If we are getting into a post-capitalism discussion of "does anyone own anything" that is different debate

@cwebber I dont know. Are you sure that's not precisely what people want? I certainly want to “own” my data in the sense that 3'rd parties are not allowed to use it without me giving explicit permission.

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