Posts Tagged ‘digital feudalism’
Apparently, DRM is not enough for MS. Ars reports that Microsoft has filed for a patent (patent application 2008/125,102) on technology it feels could address such situations via the use of what the company refers to as a “digital manners policy,” or DMP for short.
Sounds nice, no? Having a chip that temporarily bricks cell-phones in the quiet carriage. But of course, digital manners is the same kind of newspeak as DRM. Just like drm doesn’t protect your rights (it limits them), digital manners defies the whole concept of manners.
Not shooting at your neighbour is a matter of law. Not shouting at him is a matter of manners. The distinction is there for a purpose: some aspects of life are left to your own discretion and good judgement. They are enforced by social convention and peer pressure. Regulating such issues means proclaiming that you are not fit to make those judgements. It is acceptable in a nursery or a psychiatric ward, not on the street.
Digital manner is not about manners at all, its about a company thinking it has the right to dictate how you should behave. I wish I could wave it off as bad manners, but its much worse. It takes digital feudalism to new heights.
All hail for the iPhone for turning the mobile market on its head. From now on, the user is king. Gone are the days when carriers defined the market. Now its we, the people, and what we want.
Here’s to Bruce Schneier for telling it like it is:
Buying an iPhone isn’t the same as buying a car or a toaster. Your iPhone comes with a complicated list of rules about what you can and can’t do with it. You can’t install unapproved third-party applications on it. You can’t unlock it and use it with the cellphone carrier of your choice. And Apple is serious about these rules: A software update released in September 2007 erased unauthorized software and — in some cases — rendered unlocked phones unusable.
That’s one of the most beautiful examples of digital feudalism I’ve seen in a long time.
In an open market, i.e. a true capitalist system, you buy it – you own it. Own as in its yours to do with as you please. In a feudal system, you don’t own stuff, you get it on loan from the man. You pay for as long as you use it, and you get punished if you use it other than the way the man tells you.
The difference between empowerment and enslavement is in the ownership of mean of production. In an agrarian society, that’s hoes and fork-picks. In a knowledge society, that’s laptops and mobile phones.
The beauty of the Apply story is that they manage to maintain an image of robin hood, when they’re just as bad a sheriff as the guy next door – only more efficient. And in the meanwhile, Microsoft does the dirty job of painting open-source as a bunch of commies. If you think of it, the only honest capitalist model of software is open source. Just like your garden hoe: no-one can tell you what to dig with it or where.