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The Real Future of Linux and FOSS (Is Not Shiny Toys)

Dec 28, 2010, 23:48 (6 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Carla Schroder)

"There is a word that is to me as a pebble in a shoe, as fingernails on a blackboard, and that is the word consumer. Consumer is a perfectly good word that has become incurably tainted. One dictionary definition is "a person who acquires goods and services for his or her own personal needs". Farther down on the same Dictionary.com page it says "one that utilizes economic goods; specifically : an individual who purchases goods for personal use as distinguished from commercial use". And so we have Consumer Reports, consumer protection laws, Consumer's Union, and other organizations devoted to protecting consumer's rights and interests.

"There is another, older definition of consumer: "one who squanders or wastes," "one who uses up goods or articles". That is more in tune with the modern definition, which to me is "Unquestioning passive receptacle of overpriced, low-quality, low-value goods and services". They call us consumers of entertainment, of software, of hard goods, and of services. They're trying to monetize intellectual property, and retain control of our stuff that we buy, and make us pay for the same thing every time we touch it.

"I do not like this word consumer. I prefer customer. The definition of customer is much more interesting than consumer: "1. a person who purchases goods or services from another; buyer; patron. 2. Informal. a person one has to deal with: a tough customer; a cool customer."

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