basic thoughts about computers, pt.II

Few days ago, I began musing about computers.
I will continue this today and try to make my thoughts straight.

Before I go on, I would like to introduce a few terms for better understanding:

I like to call a production-device a DA-Device, since it converts information from Binary (or Digital) to Analog. A scanning-device is referred to as AD-Device.

The process of industrialization

Since the beginning of the industrialization, production has gotten more and more automatized and concentrated.
Computers and robots are becoming vital parts in most modern manufacturing of goods.

Now the concentration of the equipments necessary to produce goods in large quantities (machines, production-assets, robots) has come to a turning point in some markets. With the continuing trend of miniaturization in the computing-devices industry, a new generation of production-devices will eventually become so small to be afford- and deployeable by a wide range of individuals. These individuals sum up easily to mass-production.

The trend can be shown as a gauss-curve:

The left half of the curve shows the concentration-process.

But at a certain point, the trend seems to be reversed.

I think, what happens is this:
When a DA-device has reached the potential to be mass-marketed, the trend of concentration is opposed by a new trend: That of the individual mini-mass production.
The DA-device spreads and mimics the functionality of that big machines.

Whats happening to the Music-Industry

Take a look whats happening to the music-industry:
The rise of the CD-burner (DA-device) has a great influence to that market.
Together with the Internet, it has the potential to circumvent an entire industry, which itself has come close to reaching the high-point on that gauss-curve by concentrating more and more power in the hands of a few big record-labels. There are discussions, that those few left will have to combine powers to one source in their struggle to counter the new freedom of their costumers.
For sure, such a final concentration would yield in tremendous power and be severly at odds with that self-proclaimed ‘balance of competing markets’.

So why is the media-industry facing this mechanism?
First, it’s because its main products (sound, pictures, moving-pictures) are relatively easy to be digitized with common technology.
Second, the digitized results can be consumed by anyone because the necessary DA-devices already come with every computer: Screens and soundcards.
The third reason is the ease of distribution of digital content:
The ability for the computing devices to be used to store and transport information
(either physically by exchanging a CD, smartcard, etc. or virtually via wired or wireless access)
without losing quality has made widespread distribution possible.
But it is the internet that is taking the same role as distribution, sharing and collaboration-channel like it has done with regards to the success of the Free software.

For the MI to survive in such an environment and retain their status quo, they have to try and cut down this communication-process or at least severly reduce its effectiveness.
For this they need to change the environment and basically make it totally unfree by doing 3 things:

1.) Implement DRM into all AD-devices to control the digitalization-process.
This is so no content already published analog may be digitized by ‘unauthorized’ persons. At the same time, the content industry has to switch from broadcasting analog signals to digital-only themselves rather to continue delivering analog content and allow someone else to digitize the content.
They can then decide how the digital content gets ‘tainted’ by watermarks or scramble it (DeCSS).

2.) Implement DRM into all computing-devices (mini and macro), to control the flow and usage of information.

3.) Implement DRM into all DA-devices to control the output.

The last point maybe the hardest to control, because for most information to be useful, it has to be transformed back to analog (think of music) which means losing some or all control. So 1 and 3 must go together hand in hand to ensure nothing ‘leaks’.

This seems all very unlikely now, but the industry is getting there with massive steps:

– Getting rid of analog medias, like television, radio, etc. and move them to the digital plane.
– Publish content only in digital form.
– declare copying without DRM illegal and make laws to punish those who think otherwise
what users think of this announcement
and this comment, that says it all…

The question is: What’s going to stop us from the RIAA’s disposal?


Harry Tuttle