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July 31, 2002

A Dram of DRM

Howard Greenstein has cogent reflections on DRM (including on my 3 Precepts).


Eric Norlin has blogged an interview with the technical director for Palladium in which Eric asks whether Palladium will be available to platforms other than Windows. Without this, despite whatever the Microsoft engineers say, Palladium is a Windows lock-in strategem: “Wanna listen to that CD? The record company has jiggered it so that it can only be heard on a Windows Palladium machine.”

The technical director says some of the right things. But, there’s no mention of Microsoft going Open Source with Palladium, and MS hasn’t decided if it will license the software to anyone else. But why should licensing even be an issue unless MS were looking for some advantage to being the supplier of the software that enables entertainment producers to sell their wares securely? Further, the technical director is the technical director. And like geeks everywhere, he just naturally is sympathetic to the forces of openness. But technical directors don’t make marketing decisions at Microsoft. I’ve been suckered by Microsoft in this regard before.

So, thank you, Eric, for getting this on record. Truly. You’re doing important work. The tech dir’s response is reasonable and gives some reason for encouragement. And flaming would be an unhelpful response. But I still don’t trust what I’m hearing from Microsoft about how they’re going to establish an environment that benefits me as a user as much as it benefits Hollywood and Microsoft.


Kevin Marks, Eric and others and engaged in a really useful colloquoy at Kevin’s MediAgora. They’re conducting a civil, constructive and incisive dialogue about the very nature of DRM.

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A Bozo Goes to the Museum

We went to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MassMOCA) in North Adams yesterday. It’s a really interesting space in a lovely place. Last year there the main exhibition had to do with games, and it was, well, fun. Not moving or even particuarlyly enlightening, but fun. This year it focuses on Viennese art and it’s not moving, not particularly enlightening and not fun.

It is absolutely the case that I don’t know enough about contemporary art to be able to understand what I was looking at. But here’s my new dictum for myself: When viewing an artwork adds nothing to the verbal explanation of it, skip viewing it.

E.g., the video screen that over the course of half an hour cycles through every visible shade of green? Skip it!

E.g., the purposefully dull paintings hung on a plain white cube that’s a statement about the importance of context? Skip it!

E.g., the ten minute video of a guy digging a hole in the forest? Skip it!

We did, however, get a cute windup toy and a bottle of artsy Bloody Mary mix.

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July 30, 2002

Why Vacations Suck

The better the vacation, the worse the bandwidth. It’s a law.

Huge disruption in your schedule of daily activities.

Hourly encounter with non-human species.

The rest of the world, which isn’t on vacation, doesn’t stop sending you email.

Stephen King and Tom Clancy: ridiculous plots, stupid characters, a cliche a minute.

Bugs think they own your ass.

It’s someone else’s toilet.

If your real house hasn’t burned to the ground by now, it’s probably either been looted or infested with silverfish.

No matter how much you use, calamine lotion doesn’t work … and it tastes damn funny.

When you get back, people have no sympathy for what you’ve been through.

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July 29, 2002

Three Rules of Digital Rights Management

I was happy to see Doc talking with the Head Lemur about shifting the “Right to Listen” tactics:

We both sense the need to get the whole Independent Thing happening in a major way. Fighting politicians on their own turf is an icky necessity, but a far more enjoyable one will be getting independent artists, venues and media together. Let the MPAA and the RIAA protect the old star maker machinery. We’ve got better work to do.

If artists want to distribute their stuff locked up so tightly that I can’t sample it, share it, play it on every device in my house and quote it in my blog, then they should go ahead. And I hope we’ll band together in not buying their stuff.

Let the market decide.

In fact, here are my Three Rules of DRM. Each rule supercedes the previous one.

1. Companies that want to sell us works of creativity can do so with whatever enforceable licensing agreement they want.

2. Fair use isn’t just protected but is expanded in the face of the new reality.

3. The basic architecture of our computing and networking environment — which maximizes openness, connection and innovation — isn’t degraded.

Unfortunately, I don’t know if these three are mutually consistent.

[The traditional way the Problem of Evil – the fact that bad things happen in a world created by a perfect God – is formulated is: God is all-powerful, God is all-knowing, God is good: pick any two.]

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Norlin, Doc and Dan on the Eating of Our Rights

You really ought to read Eric Norlin‘s coverage of the Microsoft Palladium Press conference. Unfortunately, with a 19.2 dialup connection on a line being shared by three families, I’ve been doing no browsing and didn’t keep up with Norlin’s (or anyone’s) blog until he sent email saying that he’s had enough abuse from mean-spirited assholes and is packing it in for a while. That’s a shame not only for the noble reason — Eric’s an important commentator and guide — but because I don’t understand Palladium and Digital IDs well enough and was counting on Eric to explain them to me.

Also informative and full of pepper: Gillmor on the latest bad news from Washington.

And Doc has posted his presentation to OSCon.

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End User Abuse License

Ryze.com promises to be your online business networking network and it might be a great service, but I didn’t get past the privacy policy. It begins well and then gets worse and worse:

Ryze Ltd. and Aereal Inc. share your concerns about personal privacy. Through the Ryze Web site, application and service, and through other contact with Ryze Ltd. and Aereal Inc. as a company, Ryze Ltd., Aereal Inc. and affiliates may collect personal information and data including, but not limited to, application and web site usage data, viewing data, file transfer and e-mail data, and personal contact information such as e-mail addresses, mailing addresses and phone numbers. Additionally, Ryze Ltd. and Aereal Inc.’s applications and web sites may use technological facilities for tagging and tracking including, but not limited to, Web cookies, login usernames and other technologies to track and correlate data. Ryze Ltd. and Aereal Inc. own and reserve all rights and all usage and distribution rights to any data it collects. Ryze Ltd. and Aereal Inc. may share user data with parties including, but not limited to, business partners, affiliates, customers and licensees.

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July 27, 2002

Harkin Haiku

Bob Treitman (of the lovely SoftPro book mini-chain) forwards a stunt contest from Gregory FCA, a Philadelphia PR and investor relations firm. We are to rewrite the annual report of our favorite disgraced corporation in the voice of an author of our choosing.

I doubt haikus count, but then I’m not really entering, am I?

Harken! The bush moves
unaware of its motion.
Crows do its thinking.

Dubya sells his stock
for far more than it is worth.
Saudis rub their hands.

White water almost drowned
one president. This one swims
in barrels of oil.

Run, Osama, run!
You are a dead man…after
the next election.

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July 26, 2002

Three Recommendations: Two Validated and One Blind

Tom Poe asks “Will you still want to buy a computer in 2004″ and, after looking at how restricted their use will be and how much privacy you’ll be giving up, answers no.


I went to Pop!Tech a couple of years ago and had an excellent time. It brings together social-minded, humanistic technologists (generalizing rather broadly) for a couple of days of presentations in the lovely Opera House in the lovely Camden, Maine. I’m going again this year as a participant, not a speaker. There are still some seats available.

I’ll blog from it, of course, but I think a semi-official blogsite is being created for it by other blogging attendees. And so blogs, inevitably, become topic- and event-based as well as based around individuals.


Because I am in a rural area where the corn is high and the bandwidth is low, I am pointing you to this site without actually having been there myself.

I heard from Steven Akstakalnis in response to the Miami Herald op-ed I wrote with W. David Stephenson about the suckitude of the Homeland Defense web site. Steven’s group (company?) administers the National Homeland Security Knowledgebase. According to this msg to me, it sounds great. There’s a free “knowledgebase” of information about “homeland security” that Steven claims is the largest anywhere. There’s a free “Terror Alert Mailing List” of warnings. There’s a free weekly newsletter.

If this site turns out to be an online casino, an offer to lengthen your penis, or ads for cameras that will let you spy on your neighbor’s hot 18-yr-old, you only have yourself to blame for following a recommendation from a guy who told you he hasn’t visited the site himself…

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July 25, 2002

InformationWeek on Blogging

The new issue of InformationWeek’s cover story is on blogging in the workplace. I haven’t had time to do naught but thumb through it. but it looks promising and cites Dan and Doc and Dave, so how bad can it be? (I did happen to notice, ahem, that they quote me also.)

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Service Interruption Notice

I’m about to head off for about two weeks to the land where the air is sweet and the Internet connections suck. Dial-up makes blogging as slow and difficult as the word onomatopoetically suggests. So, I’ll still be blogging but probably won’t be as responsive as I’d like to be.

Damn rural life!

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