Thursday, November 8, 2007

DRM, Enemy of Simplicity

A close friend of mine recently discovered the great curse of DRM. "Digital Rights Management" software is what tech companies and record labels embed in songs in an effort to prevent widespread piracy. As the friend in question is also a contributor to this blog, I'm sure he'll have more to say on the topic.

The problem? Music he purchased and downloaded legitimately and legally now resides on one PC in his house. Having recently acquired a shiny new Play Station III, he endeavoured to migrate some of that music over to the gaming console in order to be able to listen to it in his living room. A worthy pursuit for a dude who just wants be able to enjoy his music in more locations than in front of his PC. Upon attempting to get the music to play however, he quickly learned DRM had robbed him of this household victory. You see, the songs he purchased are embedded with a DRM software that is incompatible with his Sony PS III. They can only be played on certain "approved" devices.

This is a symptom of a larger problem: DRM is causing more confusion and frustration for consumers, than it is creating protection for artists and record labels. If I pay for music, shouldn't I own it? Shouldn't I be able to play it on whatever music device I own?

Come on DRM advocates and makers, what gives? Free us from the digital clutter and confusion you're causing by forcing music we pay for to work on some devices and not others.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Practical Ideas

Mike and I have come up with a list of ideas in which to produce a more streamlined existence, here are a couple that we are allowed to share at this point:

  1. Less media formats
  2. Less codecs
  3. Less operating systems

I think that these examples are somewhat self-explanatory, but we can discuss...

Here's to a Society Full of Less

There was a time,in the not so distant past, that I used to keep file folders filled with important papers and documents. These file folders were stored in filing cabinets and bins that generally took up more space than I was happy to give them. I had a real love-hate relationship with these files, folders, and cabinets. Actually, it was much more hate than it was love. If I wanted to find something inside of all of those files inside of all of those folders inide of all of those cabinets, I had to physically dig through them until I found what I need. It could take hours, and frequently resulted in multiple paper cuts.

Then, circa 2002 I joined the rest of the industrialized world and discovered the organizational joy of storing as much stuff as I possibly could on a hard drive. Things like utility bills, bank statements, pictures, work proposals, personal journals, all got introduced to their new incarnation - life inside of the machine. That's right, the files that had for so long been quietly gathering their forces around my house, as if to one day rise up in office supply war against me, were tamed and subjected to the new rule of the almighty PC and it's Hard Drive storage cell. Here they could be quickly and peacefully organized, sorted, searched, and filed away - all at the expense of a physical space about a thousandth the size of the area they used to occupy.

Since that time (what I like to refer to as the "Great Migration of 2002") I have been constantly looking for new and interesting ways to minimize the clutter in my life. I began to realize the potential of a new world view, brought about by technology, that goes way beyond documents and files. Show me a way to keep all of my music in one place and get rid of the need to store physical CDs? Done. Give me the ability to have faxes come to my email inbox, rather than getting printed out on some boxy, bulky machine sitting beside my desk? Done. Let me shoot home videos directly to a hard drive, and eliminate the need for mini-disk-foolishness or even DVDs for that matter? Done.

Therefore, I would like to officially and publicly announce my campaign for the most creatively efficient, the most un-cluttered and tidy, the most "Less" society possible.

Will you join me? Together, we can make life easier for everyone. Here's to having more of less.

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