There are lots of ways to think about computers: as communications devices, as data-storage systems, as computational engines. The underlying technical reality is that they’re all of the above. It’s fine to treat a computer as an appliance as a matter of convenience. But we cross a line when our design goes just a little further and threatens the restrictions imposed by giant multinationals. This design pattern treats the owners of computers as adversaries of their devices. This Bad Idea makes a small group of people very rich, and harms the rest of us – and the first in line to get bitten in the ass are schools, archives, libraries, and public institutions.