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Pistons and Windmills


The other night I was making my lady an offer. I was going to do something that I know she wanted to do and she was happy to accept and I thought, "Man, I could get something for this." Playfully I framed it as a Deal. She said fine but in my head (and I'd assume hers as well), that binding of it somehow tarnished it a little. She was still fine with it but I felt a slight regret and realized I would've been better off just letting it roll; I would've gotten better returns from karma than a Deal with the Devil.

The mistake I made is that my lady isn't going anywhere, so karma with her is not finite. As such the piston was the wrong tool for the job, I should've used a windmill. I was out trying to catch butterflies with a bear trap. Sure, a butterfly can't get away from the steal jaws of the bear trap but I would've been better off with the light touch of a gossamer net.

The challenge is to use the right tool for the job... as with anything. When music was digitized and took flight, the music industry was holding to the wrong tool. And to make it worse, instead of admitting to themselves that it was not working and looking for a better tool they attempted to make ways to force the new paradigm into the old methods. It was like watching someone try to convince their customers to walk around to the back entrance of a shop that sold lock-pick supplies by putting locks on the front entrance. They kept adding more and more barriers and blockades thinking that they could completely seal things off and redirect business, when all they ended up doing was making sure all the legitimate business went across the street to the more inviting shop while they lost their inventory to thieves.

Digital Rights Management, or "DRM" for short, became the Music industry's stronghold. The list of attempts at different DRM methods was long and equally matched by the list of ways they failed. The music industry was trying all different encoding and protection methods on music to prevent it from being listened to or transferred from its purchased format. They were attempting to bind the information to the digital medium. This was stupid and proved that they did not understand what was going on. Apart from not understanding the conceptual changes that the computer was bringing to the game (that I've been discussing here), they didn't appreciate the raw philosophical truth that with digital information, you cannot simultaneously serve it up and lock it down. Categorically, if I can get the information to use it-- if I can listen to a record, read a book, or watch a movie on a computer, it is available separated from the medium. If a computer can access the information in a file to convert it to the light and sound you expect from it, the computer can remember the information. It's like putting a microphone next to a speaker, there's no record that will play through a speaker that your customer will be able to hear that a microphone can't.




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