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The thoughts and theories of a guy who basically should have gone to bed hours ago.

I know, I know - what's the point? But look at it this way - I stayed up late writing it, but you're reading it...

Let's call ourselves even & move on, OK?

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Jeff Porten Buries the Lede

So I pay my daily visit to The Vast Jeff Wing Conspiracy (highly recommended, by the way, if you're not already a regular reader...), and I see the title of his recent post: Back in TidBITS, and Jeff gets Boinged.

So right away, I'm thinking, "Wow...Jeff has shared too much. I hope this is safe for work." Then, I click on the link to his TidBITS article, and I read the first line:

When I was reporting from CES in Las Vegas last January, one of the more interesting technology experiences I had was away from the show floor, back in my hotel room.

Oh lord, this doesn't look good. But, we persevere:

There were a few dozen local and cable channels . . . most amusing: the $40 daily package for both wireless Internet and the entire library of, ahem, adult entertainment.

Ugh...maybe I shouldn't be reading this on my lunch hour, and just check it out at home. After the kids go to sleep. And maybe the wife. Ah, what the heck, let's keep reading:

But I had other options, in case . . . the remote control was too far away from the bed.

Note to self: point out to Jeff that nothing, repeat, NOTHING should substitute for a remote control. Especially in an article like this...

I love technology, but this is just whack

Alright, enough of that. I'm kidding, of course. The article is actually about the social implications of Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology. Here's a quote that's much more representative of the article:

We have been carefully and methodically trained to believe it's our fault when important technologies make us feel inadequate and incapable. We have accepted the creation of a category of digital have-nots, who either rely on tech-savvy friends and family, or who do without.

But too often, the "value" [of entertainment content] is based upon an indirect conspiracy to make it difficult or impossible to use the media you've already paid for, making the end result a tax on the technological have-nots."

Jeff makes a very interesting argument here. If the tech-savvy of the world can (legally) access content for free, is it fair that the non-tech-savvy have to pay for it? Are the content providers simply taking advantage of their ignorance, rather than serving them better by showing them how to access it, or making it just as easy for everyone?

I hesitate to comment before reading Part 2 of his article, but I'll throw out one question for Jeff to chew on in the interim: Is the form factor of entertainment content really independent from the content itself? If I buy a Spider Man 3 DVD, am I really buying a license to watch the movie whenever and however I want (akin to purchasing a single-seat software license, where I can copy the software onto multiple devices as long as I only use one at a time?)? Or is the form factor more like a service level (akin to paying extra for the service package to that software, where I get more features/service for paying the extra price)? So perhaps the DVD is a service level that includes the "carry it with you and play it whenever/however you want" feature, while the On-Demand version only comes with the "watch it on this TV as many times as you like for the next 24 hours" package.

Food for thought...

posted by Brian at 2:01 PM


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