September 12, 2002

2002 September 12 Links [7:59 am]

(entry last updated: 2002-09-12 17:23:29)

A little BBSpot humor (?) today, following up on the Intel LaGrande announcement. And there’s a multi-way conversation getting started up over Larry’s Red Herring piece with Donna, Ernie the Attorney (and commenters) with Larry.

More on this from me below

(2 items listed below - although there are more new items in the ESD.10 links)

  • BBSpot reports on the Microsoft/Intel plans for the copyright-protecting CDS Operating System

  • Following up on Larry’s provocative Red Herring article, I’ve been trying to think about the implications of Palladium for the architecture of computing, and I keep coming up with reasons to dislike and fear it, irrespective of the problems that automatically spring to mind when one considers the source of the concept. While I see Will’s and Larry’s point that, as a layered method to handle access control, Palladium does a better job of maintaining the end-to-end model of the network, it does that by interfering with another, far more important end-to-end model. I am referring to the ultimate terminal elements of the Internet — the users themselves.

    The basic notion of the end-to-end network is “smart devices, dumb networks” — networks just move bits around, and the devices at the ends assemble them into some kind of meaningful form. However, the concept of “meaningful” relies upon the true terminal elements of the network — the user. And, if we extend the end-to-end model to include the user, then it seems to me that Palladium implicitly violates the structure, because now there’s something in the communication channel that knows more, or is more privileged, than the terminal element.

    After all, the computer at the end of the traditional network channel is just the gateway between network-speak and human-speak and experience. And, in the end-to-end model, that gateway should not be designed so that it needs to know more than the user does. But, Palladium breaks this meta-end-to-end model by raising the computer above the user in the permissions heirarchy - moreover, it sets up other intermediaries (content owners, software writers, signing authorities) as equally necessary permission-granters in the process of networking.

    (This gets into something that I’ve been trying to grapple with formally for the last couple of weeks. Copyrights cover the production and distribution of expressions that, through a varieties of alchemies, become experiences - things that induce human responses. When we consider a book, my acquisition of the expression then gives me the opportunity to convert it into experience though the agency of my reading the book. As copyright enters the realm of digital expression, it is being used not only as a defense against illicit mechanical reproduction, but it is also being used to defend a right to control the process whereby the expression becomes an experience. Reading is entirely a process of my own undertaking; listening to a CD involves an intermediate mechanism which alienates me from the process of conversion of expression into experience. And now, with things like Palladium, the copyright holder wants to control an aspect of the conversion of expression into experience that was not available to him before. But, that’s another essay that is even less well baked than this one….)

    And, I think that’s why so many recoil when confronted with DRM in this guise too. If, as suggested, Palladium is an opt-in, then maybe the user can still assert his/her desire to stay outside the “protected zone.” But, given the degree to which the industry seems to be planning to make these choices for us, and our legislatures desire to enforce them, I find it hard to believe that there’s going to be any “opt-” at all.

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