Tuesday, January 31, 2012

History and Piracy: A History

Benji Edwards writing for Technologizer.
And what about cloud software? If all of our software tools become centralized and run over the Internet, it will be hard to pirate them, which also means they won’t get preserved. That’s bad for history.
When paleoanthropologists wonder if a 13,000 year-old Clovis point can take down a Bison, they tie one to a spear and let it fly. If spear points had been automatically cloud updated over the course of their development, however, we would only know of the most recent iteration in the design process. Clovis points wouldn’t exist today, and we’d be wondering how ancient Native Americans managed to hunt game with uranium-tipped bullets.
I had never thought about software and games, and the like, quite in the way of Beowulf and arrowheads before. Now I have. My brain is a better place for it, too.

Also, in light of a possible, eventual, transformation of the paper book industry to e-books, there's this to think about.
Current U.S. copyright laws have good intentions, but they ultimately jeopardize the survival of digital property because they do not take into account the rapid pace of digital media decay and obsolescence.
Our body of copyright law makes a 19th-century-style legal assumption that the works in question will stay fixed in a medium safely until the works become public domain, when they can then be copied freely. Think of paper books, for example, which can retain data for thousands of years under optimal conditions.
In the case of digital data, many programs will vanish from the face of the earth decades before the requisite protection period expires (the life of the author plus 70 years in the U.S.). Media decay and obsolescence will claim that software long before any libraries can make legal, useful backups.
Consider: Will an e-book of today run on an e-device 100 years from now? If only e-books are published, how will we archive them?


Soon I won't be here...

Hello, readers.

It's snowing outside. A flat-bed truck is selling vegetables. Jonathan Franzen believes e-books are bad for society.

The technology I like is the American paperback edition of Freedom. I can spill water on it and it would still work! So it's pretty good technology. And what’s more, it will work great 10 years from now. So no wonder the capitalists hate it. It’s a bad business model 
Maybe nobody will care about printed books 50 years from now, but I do. When I read a book, I’m handling a specific object in a specific time and place. The fact that when I take the book off the shelf it still says the same thing - that’s reassuring.
Someone worked really hard to make the language just right, just the way they wanted it. They were so sure of it that they printed it in ink, on paper. A screen always feels like we could delete that, change that, move it around. So for a literature-crazed person like me, it’s just not permanent enough...

Also, I will be leaving Seoul soon. This city has given me more than I could have asked for. New friends. Old friends newly made. A collection of students that have blown my mind with their hearts, their brains, and their tendency to give presents and sing songs on the last day of class. We all had a good cry that day. The Doctor couldn't have asked for a better send-off.

In March, if all goes to plan, I'll be in India. There will probably be pictures. That's how these things work.



p.s. I have a lot of time right now. I might use it to blog. I might use it to Google+. I might watch what I've left of Community, Misfits, Mad Men, various K-dramas, and snow. It's really quite nice.