August 9, 2002

2002 August 9 Links [8:43 am]

(entry last updated: 2002-08-09 17:43:52)

Back at the office after a day spent moving to our new house! The most peculiar thing is that I’m exhausted today, even though the movers did all the hard work.

A small plug & caveat: we had a great crew of movers from Gentle Giant - everything one could ever hope for in movers. The most notable feature - because the client pays by the hour, the crew is clearly trained to run when not carrying stuff - up and down stairs, into the truck, whatever - they are never idle.

On the other hand, the front office of Gentle Giant (the people you have to go through to get a crew) have some serious problems. I don’t know if it’s just that they may have terrible information management or that the people who work there are incompetent. Either way, the screw-ups getting to the move were huge and I place the blame entirely on the front office. Long story short: hire Gentle Giant for a move, but get everything in writing from the front office.

On to today’s links…..

The FCC action yesterday gets attention all over. Charlie Cooper’s piece at CNet on “free content” got me to hunt up an article from my original ESD.10 links page by Michael Kinsley that is a little eerie to read nowadays. And Sony has new DRM tech.

And Robert X. Cringeley’s The Pulpit column tells an optimistic story. The closing long paragraph inadvertantly explains why it’s never going to happen without some big changes..

(6 items listed below)

  • Declan McCullagh explains the mixed blessing of the FCC requirement that all TVs of a certain size have digital tuners. As someone who is only a marginal cable user (I actually rely mostly on broadcast TV), this sounds like a boom for me. On the other hand, by adding this functionality, we have a new place to install DRM technologies. The New York Times also has an article, as does Wired - although I would have expected a better article from Brad King..
  • Slashdot has a discussion for those of us getting ready to move to DVDs and want a hacked/hackable box.
  • Charlie Cooper asserts that it’s about time people starting paying for Internet content (ZDNet version w/ TalkBacks). Somehow, I still think Michael Kinsley’s perspective from this old Slate article makes more sense. And his tagline for the article is even a little chilling today: "So maybe the Internet’s first great cliché had it exactly backward: Information has been free all along. It’s the Internet that wants to enslave it."
  • The India Times has an article by an improbably-named author on the subject of video CD piracy.
  • Read the press release, then check out the Slashdot discussion of a Sony DRM technology called OpenMG X. Who makes these names up, anyway?
  • Robert Cringely sees the future of mesh computing much as described by Yochai Benkler at ILaw 2002, and then torpedoes this entire vision with this paragraph:

    Think of it this way. I just bought a “Lord of the Rings” DVD at Fry’s Electronics for $16.95. That $16.95 has to support not only the movie production, but also an immense manufacturing, distribution, and marketing organization that at the end of the day probably yields two dollars or less in pure profit to the intellectual property owner. So why not cut out that manufacturing, distribution, and marketing operation — and its associated administrative overhead — and instead just hurl a copy of the movie onto the Net, let it propagate as demand dictates, with that same two dollars making its way back to the film makers from every subsequent owner?

    I thought he understood this problem, but he’s speaking seriously here, as the next paragraph says:

    That’s where we are headed, to a system where Microsoft doesn’t control access to media as much as content controls its own use, and only the content creators get paid. And when it all comes together a decade from now, we’ll see that for the very reasons I just described it was inevitable.

    Without some kind of rein on the institutions of control who depend upon the existing distribution infrastructure for survival, this “inevitable” future will be easily avoided, I fear.

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