I keep having a thought about cyberdecks and worldbuilding. Often, they are portrayed as specialized and customized hardware for an individual person to accentuate their abilities.

Which sounds great, and even stylish in that pre-2010s kinda way.

Today when I look around, though, I have the opposite thought. What if it wasn't a quest for more power or features which led to the creation of decks, but rather the attempt to scrounge together *any* tech which is *not* infested with corporate spyware?

The idea being that instead of decks being some powerhouse of specialized tech, they're desperation on the part of gray and black hats necessary to make a living outside of the corps. They all look so weird and custom because they *are* weird and custom. Because they are. made. out. of. junk.

We already have microcontrollers powerful enough to do keylogging, limited analytics, and have the ability to autonomously post results back to some remote server.

Imagine that in a keyboard. Typing in a product name sends ads your way. Typing in a place adds your UUID to a location database. Typing in an "illegal" command string calls the cops.

Imagine you *can't* buy a keyboard which *doesn't* do this.


"Why does your 'laptop' look like a broken phone glued to a screen and a keyboard with welded hinges?"

"Because it's a broken phone glued to a screen and keyboard with welded hinges"

@socketwench It's a balancing act. Scrounging enough tech together that will let you do what you need to do, without ending up on an Unregulated Tech registry. So every thing you have is bodged together from junk with the serial numbers digitally filed off

@socketwench Now, suddenly, the whole "deckers build their machines from scratch, down to writing the firmware and OS themselves" in early Shadowrun makes way more sense.

@drwho @socketwench But we already have this, don't we?

I mean, I got and librebooted my X200 specifically because I didn't want Intel IME on my computer, I ran alpine linux for years because it had the hardened grc security linux fork along with muslc, and I've written custom itch scratching software for things just because the existing things Suck.

@drwho @socketwench Yeah, I'm also thinking about getting FPV goggles and modding head tracking onto them specifically because like the majority of the market of VR headsets are super expensive and come with corporate spyware...

@socketwench yes, I really appreciate thought around this that goes beyond making things that look like movie props.

@socketwench What would you need a physical keyboard for? Are you some kind of hacker terrorist ;)


Sounds like it's starting to happen, in some ways. Projects like @mntmn seem like the step that comes after deblobbing old thinkpads.

Also, the bit later in this thread about keyboards is terrifying.

Overall, I love the idea as much as I hate the reasons for it. Bespoke weirdness.

@socketwench By that logic, I am typing this on a cyberdeck. We're already here.

@koz_ross I have often called what we're living now "cyberpunk with wood paneling". So, yes, I totally believe you are.


Not to mention the way the more exotic your hardware, firmware and OS is, the less likely it is your average government actors or high-tech corps have the right combination of zero-days and intrusion code handy.

And, for extra fun, you can go with a layered approach, where each layer has a different CPU architecture. Then it gets like in the cyberpunk stories, where hack-backs take a while as they defeat each layer.

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A bunch of technomancers in the fediverse. Keep it fairly clean please. This arcology is for all who wash up upon it's digital shore.