Forget DRM, Microsoft Looks To Build Digital Manners Management

from the mind-your-manners dept

If there's one thing companies should understand by now, it's the idea that restricting people from doing stuff that they want to do tends to backfire, badly. Just look at every attempt to create "DRM." Well, apparently Microsoft is trying to create a different sort of digital restrictions policy: one based on hard-coded "manners." A few folks sent in notice that Microsoft has applied for a patent on a system for "device manner policy" (DMP). Basically, such a DMP system would restrict the use of certain features in certain locations. So, for example, a mobile phone that has the DMP technology might not be able to ring in a movie theater, but would instead shift to vibrate. Or a digital camera or cameraphone would automatically disable the ability to take photos in a museum. Really, this is just another form of DRM, restricting what people can do with the technology they own. While it's nice to think that technology could somehow block out rude uses of devices, the opportunity for problems and abuse seems quite high. Wouldn't we be better off focusing on social norms to get people to learn when it is and is not appropriate to use certain technologies?

Filed Under: digital manner policy, manners, patents
Companies: microsoft


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  1. identicon
    Peter, 11 Jun 2008 @ 9:38am

    Why all the hand-waving?

    This seems similar to conventions like robots.txt (and for that matter, "No cell phones" signs) - a way for someone to request a certain type of behavior.

    It would be... difficult... to enforce this on all phones, especially with the rise of 3rd-party software we're seeing recently. I think if anyone at Microsoft really has that goal they're deluding themselves.

    But to have a way to say "hey, we'd appreciate it if you turned off your ringer here" seems like a good thing - I, for one, would prefer not to have to remember to turn off my phone when I'm at a movie.

    Techdirt's usually good about noting that technological means don't alter the ends - i.e., phishing is fraud, not some "new" crime; "cyberwar" is a meaningless term; etc.

    I don't see the difference between this and a sign, really. There are rules, they're posted, you can choose whether to follow them. What's the problem?

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