Printers that won’t use non-branded cartridges. DVD region coding. Software with arbitrary memory restrictions. PC companies that charge you not to include crapware on your system. Smart phones that restrict development. The world of technology is filled with examples of design aimed at making more money for companies rather than making life simpler for users.
MIT researcher Benjamin Mako Hill (who gave the keynote speech today at linux.conf.au) calls these “antifeatures”, and argues that one of the most important advantages of free software is that it isn’t burdened with them, or (at worst) can easily remove them.
He’s launched a wiki to list examples of antifeatures, which is stimulating (if occasionally depressing) reading. Check it out, and share your own favourite examples of antifeatures in the comments.