Friday, February 09, 2007

Linux and Mac users may be in the minority, but they are vocal

I found the phrase "Linux and Mac users may be in the minority, but they are vocal" in this article about java and ajax. It struck me as odd to even remark upon it, but then I figured that maybe it's an ignored phenomenon.

Beeing an early adopter is a way of living, not some marketing category. Either you do it in most aspects of your living, or you don't. In order for you to take up Linux or Mac, or use Firefox instead of IE, you have to get active. Purely by crossing that line you've placed yourself in group of people that care about their digital tools and search to improve them.

Funnily this kind of description would perfectly fit the bill of early adopters too. It's no coincidence there's a similarity. Linux and Mac users are deep early adopters, on the very end of the scale of how early adopterish they can get.

Thus the remark becomes:
Early adopters may be in the minority, but they are vocal.
And now it's you, who'll go "duh!" on me. Because it's so glaringly obvious.
But consider, most applications that are written are for Windows. A lot of websites out there are only working satisfactory in IE. Thus the deep early adopters will avoid these products and projects like the pest, because it doesn't run with what they prefer from the depths their hearts.

We all know early adopters are important because they give you a kick start market, free marketing and a clear indication weather what you did rocks or sucks. If you throw a good percentage of early adopters away simply because you feel that their market is to small to be considered, you should consider that decision very very careful. It may prove fatal for your product.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

More thoughts on DRM

Because a DRM requires a secret that may not be revealed, but the place where the secret is kept/produced/defined is in the hands of an untrusted party, it cannot be “secure”. Thus obscurity is important to “secure” a DRM scheme, and in this FairPlay is not alone. Other companies can proudly claim to have the most obscure DRM, for whatever it's worth.

DRM advocates may cry foul now, after all they have invented all their shiny toys they like to brandish, however consider these two simply facts:
  • DRM circumvention protection rights are lobbied for all around the globe by industry lobbyists
  • No DRM company puts their specification up into the open public for review.

The issue to be dealt with is trust. The consumer has been ruled out to be trusted, thus nobody else to trust is left. If you trust nobody you're paranoid, and the world's a scary place to live in. Oddly that's just how the RIAA/MPAA seem to be behaving.
  • A talk about DRM by Cory Doctorow
  • A video illustrating problems with trusted computing. DRM runs on the concept of trusted hardware, and trust is an important topic in the discussion.
Contrary to popular believe copyright law is not only about who owns the content and may restrict copying. It also is about:
  • Fair use
  • Right for private copy
  • The public domain (after the copyright expires)
Unless DRM is implemented in a fashion to accommodate these (still existing and well, thank you) laws, it’s in a legal grey zone.

The future of the DRM industry may seem rosy for now. Today and for a while to come a demand for the technology exists, nobody guarantees that demand will continue. A down in this market will emerge, and as usual, who had a solid business foundation and delivered real and lasting value to his customers will survive it.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Basic inalienable digital rights

I was reading a piece about the RIAA and their convoluted understanding of Steve Jobs open letter when I stumbled upon the term "Basic inallienable digitial rights".

There a question occured to me. Do I want to fund the society our children are going to live in, on the basis of the DMCA, patent law, copyright and a RIAA/MPAA mafia?

Every society traces it's funding back to documents laying out basic rights. Such documents as the declaration of independence and the bill of rights. Today we are in the midst of a fast changing civilization. In a mere 15 years the Internet and widespread computing hardware have started to influence and change our lives completely.

A new substrate, a basic building block for civilization as we know it is right now being invented. We find new ways to partake in culture, express ourselves, communicate, discover, share and consume. I have no doubt that the last 15 years of history have been as important as the invention of law, the written word and printing of books.

But who forges rights in our brave new society? we have copyright (which mostly serves a content industry these days), patent law, the DMCA and any other number of legal paraphernalia that usually accompanies enterprises, none of which are concerned with ensuring the rights of the digital citizens.

These are times of change and times of definition. We as a children of a digital age must come together and define the basic inalienable digital rights we want to live by. These rights are personal rights, and they will be as important to the founding of our future society as the declaration of independence has been.

We are in dire need to define ourselves before the rifts of opposing forces of our society become too great for it to mend. We're in dire need of basic inalienable digital rights. It is a great plunder of our time that we haven't gotten around to think about it sooner.