September 30, 2003

10 Techs that Deserve to Die [12:07 pm]

I’m not really a fan of Technology Review, but it’s been interesting to watch it become more and more like Wired. In that vein, the current issue has a Bruce Sterling article on Ten Technologies that Deserve to Die. Typical Sterling, but #10 is worth a read:

10. DVDs

The DVD was the most eagerly adopted electronic consumer gizmo in history, but I’d feel bad if I failed to complain about the evil of these things. First and worst, DVDs are unbearably frail. Any benefit one gets from “clearer pictures”–on what HDTV superscreen, exactly?–is quickly removed by the catastrophic effects of a single thumbprint or scratch. Plus, just like CDs, DVDs as physical objects will prove to warp and delaminate.

Most loathsome of all is the fiendish spam hard-burned into DVDs, which forces one to suffer through the commercials gratefully evaded by videotape fast-forwards. The Content Scrambling System copy protection scheme doesn’t work, and the payoff for pirating DVDs is massive, because unlike tapes, digital data don’t degrade with reproduction. So DVDs have the downside of piracy and organized crime, without the upside of free, simple distribution. Someday they will stand starkly revealed for what they really are: collateral damage to consumers in the entertainment industry’s miserable, endless war of attrition with digital media.

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