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I did an interview last week with the CBC Radio show The Spark (I podcasted the complete interview when they posted it); now they’ve put up the edited episode. MP3 link

One Response to “Edited Spark interview about the “coming war on general purpose computation””

  1. Andrew McNicol


    I finally heard this podcast today – I’m two months behind on some of my listening, apparently. I just wanted to pick up on one thing you said around 14 minutes in:

    “If you buy your iPhone through AT&T in America, and then use that to sign up to iTunes and then use iTunes to buy an audio book from Audible, you have to agree to twenty-six thousand words of collective license agreement that govern your usage . . .”

    I was looking into iPhone 4 service agreements last year and have calculated the number to be much, much higher. I noticed others tended to simply count the words rather than look at what other documents were being linked to.

    First, you need to agree to the iTunes Terms and Conditions which is 15887 words (21 June 2010). And this references agreement to other documents (Privacy Policy (2425), Apple’s Copyright Policy (219), and Legal Information & Notices(3415)). Then you agree to the iPhone terms and Conditions (9281 words, 8 May 2009). But this also states that I must agree to various Google terms (I won’t go into detail) that total an additional 9645 words.

    (The YouTube section that is in addition to the above totals 6230 words, but is technically only applicable if you will use YouTube on your device.)

    So with two button clicks to activate your iPhone 4 you’ve agreed to 40872 (47102 with YouTube) words. (Important to note these numbers and relations are accurate to just before mid last year when I did this work. Google’s merging of things has likely changed it a bit, and the iOS 5 update added quite a lot of content to both documents.) And this is before any agreements relating to your phone service provider, or Audible account like you’ve mentioned above.

    I don’t appear to have blogged detailing the iPhone 4 activation specifically, but I have a recent post comparing it to the untethered iPhone 4S activation that is, I think, interesting – http://exhipigeonist.net/2011/11/terms-of-surrender-iphone-4s/

    The iPhone 4 is terrible in terms of wordcount because of its dependence on so many other systems. The iPhone 4S is better in this respect, but doesn’t, in my view, solve any of the issues around informed consent. I think you cover these issues pretty well in the interview and your article.

    Just thought I’d jump in here and let you know the number of words (which is not what we should limit our discourse to, but is an easy way to demonstrate the futility of understanding these agreements) is much higher, bringing to our attention a system that is perhaps a little worse than you make it out to be =)

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