This site is devoted to copyright and issues of 'intellectual property,' particularly the issue's analytical aspects. It also concerns itself with the gap between public perception and the true facts, and with the significant lag time between the coverage on more technical sites and the mainstream press. For site feed, see: To see the list of sites monitored to create this site, see:

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

On control

It's been opined over and over again that the Internet was revolutionary because it established few limits on what could be done with the technology and the content, but I'm waning philosophic today, so I'll add my tuppence worth. In a sense, technologies like CSS have continued this trend even further by decoupling content from presentation: you can make someone else's webpage display pretty much however you want by changing which style sheet you use. And this is a good thing--blind users can have their pages read by text readers, text can be zoomed on demand, and those of us who remember the dark ages of the Internet know what a curse the blinky tag can be.
The consequences of senders having control over presentation range from the mundane to the serious. Spammers often utilize images--which remove the text from its parseable form--to avoid Bayesian filtering (among the most effective methods)...with no text to parse, no patterns can be found. Anyone who has spent much time on instant messenging services will have run across the friend who sends all their text in light pink, bold, italicized, curlique font. Most clients don't let you change this, even though you're the one who has to read it. DVD players force you to use the same menu on a computer as on a consumer electronics player with an order of magnitude less capability. Why should a consumer be forced to wait 5 minutes just to start playing the DVD they bought? It's restrictions like these that make DVD Shrink a more convenient way of playing DVDs than the non-DMCA-violating ones. MPlayer is also considerably better at this than the 'legal' ones. Bad DVD design contributes to this problem, intentionally or otherwise. For instance, the Sex and the City DVDs don't have a scene change flagged at the end of the credits. As a result, the viewer is forced to see the same intro with the same music over dozens of episodes--TiVo gives you more control over content you didn't pay for than that which you did (in a different example; technically the consumer pays directly for HBO content). A well-designed non-restricted player might include a "jump x seconds" feature for just such instances, but such features are not available, along with 'bookmarks' in the DVD to jump to your favorite scenes and the like. Why shouldn't DVD players offer you as much control over your viewing experience as your browser does over text?



Post a Comment

<< Home