"The Digital Imprimatur", by John Walker, is a brilliant, doom-ful, elegaic essay. He sketches out a version of Lessig's Future of Ideas argument, somewhat less architecturally, a bit more politically.
Like Lessig, Walker begins with a sketch of the internet's early successes and potential. For instance:
To be sure, there were attempts by "the people in charge" to recover some of the authority they had so suddenly lost: attempts to restrict the distribution and/or use of encryption, key escrow and the Clipper chip fiasco, content regulation such as the Computer Decency Act, and the successful legal assault on Napster, but most of these initiatives either failed or proved ineffective because the Internet "routed around them"--found other means of accomplishing the same thing. Finally, the emergence of viable international OpenSource alternatives to commercial software seemed to guarantee that control over computers and Internet was beyond the reach of any government or software vendor--any attempt to mandate restrictions in commercial software would only make OpenSource alternatives more compelling and accelerate their general adoption.
This is how I saw things at the euphoric peak of my recent optimism...
the peer to peer architecture of the Internet allowed creation of entirely new kinds of media--discussion boards, scientific preprint repositories, web logs with feedback from readers, collaborative open source software development, audio and video conferences, online auctions, music file sharing, open hypertext systems, and a multitude of other kinds of spontaneous human interaction.
Then there's the scary stuff: certificates, trusted computing, IP, etc.
My favorite, pulled from a John Markoff article:
Microsoft also warned today that the era of "open computing," the free exchange of digital information that has defined the personal computer industry, is ending.
For my money, Walker understates the effects of IP issues, both copyright and patents.
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The primary knock against these devices is that they require training. But how many of us stopped at the tricycle as kids? As Engelbart noted, we all managed to move up to the more-complex two-wheeler.
Donnie Darko (2001) is a strange, powerful film. It's like a lost Twilight Zone episode mixed with cuts from a doomed teen movie, alternating in tone between horror, satire, loving family portait, and an apocalypse. And with the scariest giant bunny.
The film's website goes further than film, using Flash to set up some interactive puzzles which construct story supplements. The designers creatively play with our assumptions about browsers, using screen width, time, the odd pop-up, and understated sound to keep us off-balance.
Chamberlain alleges Skylink's handheld portable transmitter can activate Chamberlain's garage door openers and, in doing so, unlawfully bypasses a technology-protection measure built into the device's software.
On one level, this is yet another reminder of how far we've failed to apply institutions and policies to the ontological nature of digital materials. Digital objects tend to be about linkage, porosity, and exchange, more like fields of force than discrete units on containers.
On another level, this foolish story shows how the level of copyright, a thin layer of force laminated over the details of our world since Anne, has thickened into visibility. Things are in the saddle and ride humankind, perhaps, or simply giants in the earth? No. Like a dinosaur's skeleton emerging into the light as a tar pit recedes, or an ancient city revealed by the erosion of archaeology, we're confronted with an entity that's been with us for a while, just alongside our general awareness, somehow present in marginal notes. Now copyright is in the full light of morning, nearly noon, and we're struck by how odd the damned thing is, how weirdly put together, assembled by heterogeneous committees sprawling across time in occasional mystery. And we trace that assembly and find threads, ropes, steel cables leading back to the rest of us, to our institutions and desktops, plugged into federal policy and garage doors openers, friends and ancestors.
Since its early days, the MPA, often referred to now as "a little State Department," has expanded to cover a wide range of foreign activities falling in the diplomatic, economic, and political arenas. The Motion Picture Association conducts these activities from its headquarters in Los Angeles, California and from offices in Washington, D.C.; Brussels; New Delhi; Rio de Janeiro; Singapore; Mexico City; Toronto; and Jakarta.
It has international affiliates, like the Japanese one.
According to today's WSJ:
The MPA is so concerned about global piracy that the organization has created itw own politce force and spy network to trreack down pirates and help customs agents raid illegal operations and make arrests. (B4)