• From: Steve Baker <ice@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: technocracy@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 24 Apr 2002 12:45:31 -0500

  I'm very bored, so anyway...

  Last night I'm watching Star Trek: Voyager on the TV.  I was pretty bored
last night too as you obviously know by now.  It was the second part of the
two parter where they're transported back through space and time back to
current day earth (or 1995 earth or somesuch).  It's the episode where the
evil Bill Gates clone gets his hands on a 29th century timeship and uses it to
make computer chips for his evil corporate empire, all a plot contrivence to
give the good holographic doctor a portable holo-emitter, so he can actually
do more, since the writers are already bored with all the "real" people on
that show.

  Anyway... During the episode apparently the evil "Bill Gates" guy
"downloads" part of the Enterprises computer data.  This is where it usually
is pretty hard to be both a system administrator and a sci-fi fan and still
suspend disbelief, because you see, when he "downloaded" the computer data, he
apparently took it with him, as in it was gone from the ship.  Because part of
their "OS" was missing, they couldn't do stuff, like fire their phasers and
aim photon torpedos.  I store this fact in my mind, because I'm a sys-admin,
it's what I do.  God help me.

  So after the show, I'm lying there in bed, thinking about their lost data.
I need a life so bad...  And I'm thinking, "Geez, don't they at least keep
backups of stuff?"  They can move around "gigaquads" of data like it was
nothing, but they don't have tape drives or some future equivalent? And why
not copy the data instead of moving it?  What's up with that?  I see that sort
of crap all the time in Sci-fi... treating data like it was a physical thing,
kind of strange in a sci-fi universe that treats physical matter like it was
data.  And then it hit me.

  Digital Rights Management.

  It makes all those cheesy sci-fi moments where they "steal" data instead of
copying it make complete sense now, because they can't just copy it, the
hardware won't let them, and they can't back it up, because that would be
effectively copying it.  For years this is how Hollywood has portayed computer
information, and it's exactly how they want it to be.

  It all makes sense now.  It's not bad science fiction, it's how it's really
going to be in the future.  So next time you see something like that, you'll
know what's going on.

                                                                - Steve

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