Tuesday, November 28

There is a limit - using obtuse technological means to solve sociological issues

From: Good Experience - How (not) to prevent people from using bus lanes

This video is hilarious. It should have simply been entitled "DRM", for this is the perfect metaphor for what DRM is. All to often we think technological means can solve sociological issues... when often the technology is completely clumsy, poorly executed, and quite simple obtuse.

The world is not a perfect place, there are exceptions to every rule, life and society will always be messy... there will always be some spam... there will always be some theft. There are no "perfect solutions"... there is only prevention, deterrence and an increased understanding of social engineering.

I find it fascinating that we look endlessly for solutions to sociological issues in technology.

The problems in the IP world are not technological ones, they are due arrogance, greed, complacency and just plain laziness. The culmination of 10+ years of complacency in the music industry. Music executives and media makers at large companies just find it easier to label their customers as criminals and treat them as criminals then to actually trusts them and try to understand them.

As is often said it's easier to hire lawyers then it is to spend money on R&D.

So, with a little innovation and a whole lot of evilness apple now has something like 75% of all online music sales. Why? The music industry created it's own tyrant. They literally handed apple the keys. It's freaking hilarious. Nice job music industry.

And yet... the music industry is no closer to having an open and competitive music market.

The real innovation is happening away from the ball.

The only other music label with any major market share is eMusic with about 10% of digital music sales. How do they do it? While eMusic is not perfect... essentially requiring a stupid monthly service fee instead of allowing people to openly buy music with a simple credit card as they need it... they do do one thing right. They sell unprotected mp3s that will work on the iPod or indeed ANY music player.

I'm torn, because on the one hand I want for these record labels to get a clue, but on the other hand...

Because all these idiotic mainstream labels are standing on the sidelines this has created huge opportunities for independent labels, musicians, and distributors as represented by CD Baby, eMusic, and above all so called "podsafe music", which is music with a simple liberal copyright license, aka. copy-left license such as those from the Creative Commons.

For all these fine institutions have done nothing has done more than the failures of the mainstream media's own endeavors.

Specifically the failure of products like Microsoft's Plays-for-sure DRM, the Zune and the iTunes music store. They have become proofs and vindication for anti-DRM advocates.

1) Plays-for-sure, Microsoft's proposed standard, because of it's complete failure... and the fact that it has become synonymous with 'plays for shit'... not only does it not play on the majority of mp3 players out there, but Microsoft themselves have abandoned it on their latest attempt at competing with the iPod, the Zune.

2) The zune, because of it's notoriety for being completely anti-consumer and obtuse.


3) the iPod/iTunes combo because it has created a gigantic monopoly that benefits no-one at all but Apple.

In conclusion...

The solution is sociological not technological.

1 comment:

Michael Meiser said...

Damn! I just watched that videoe, and in the fina few frames you can actually see the guys head hit the windshield and break it.

It's just wow. Apparently potentially massive headwounds, pedestrian injury, and ripping the axels and underbody right out of cars is completely acceptable if you want to stop people using the bus lanes.

It's completely on par with the thinking behind DRM, the Zune, the music industry suing grandmothers and kids for piracy of music and

We should all have great technological dodads and gadgets instead of having to put up with each other, try to understand each other, having to actually be creative and innocative.

It's so much easier to just shoot people with taser guns. :)