If I had to define a theme for Techdirt, it would be something like: “Technology constantly evolves: get it, some don’t.”
So, first up for my favorites this week are stories about the ones that don’t get it:
Working in computer security at a major bank (note, everything I say is my own opinion and should not reflect on my employer, just as the stupid things my employer does should not reflect on me), the top story that caught my eye is how the politicians trying to tell the country how to do computer security have no idea how to do it themselves. A far-reaching computer security bill needs vigorous debate among experts and policymakers, and slow, careful consideration. Having a few elected officials who know nothing about computer security rush it through is not what we need, nor will it make anyone safer.
A decade ago in college, I wrote a paper about the problems of faulty filtering and censorship systems, and the “Scunthorpe” problem, which was already well known at the time. So I was surprised that Facebook, one of the top tech companies today, still can’t get it right, and was censoring comments involving a major newspaper simply because of a (defunct) domain name in the story. If we’re going to have spam filters, let’s not use them to censor news stories or discussions.
How publishers keep making the same mistakes the recording industry did is mind boggling. Basic economics might not be taught in elementary school, but you’d think it would be a requirement for any college degree involving a business major. Yet they keep on insisting on higher pricing (which will mean they sell less), while at the same time increasing their own costs and customer anger by putting in DRM. What this tells me is how intellectual monopoly rights are nothing like real property and we need to stop treating (and calling) them as such. Pop quiz: If you came up with a foolproof way for a manufacturer of a physical good to reduce their manufacturing and distribution costs by 99%, would the price to the customer go up or down?
But all is not lost, there do happen to be people and companies that do get it:
Kickstarter is now the 800-lb gorilla for raising money for just about anything, and it is only getting bigger. From smartwatches, to documentaries, to medium budget video games, if you’ve got an idea, you can get money to try to make it happen. How soon before we see studio budget movies and video games, or a soon-to-be-major tech company get Kickstarted? I’m thrilled to see this growth, as it shows that people are willing to pay for things and don’t want it all free. And even when they can get something free, they’ll still pay to support it. My favorite project so far: over a million dollars was raised to reprint books of a free webcomic, Order of the Stick.
Next up we’ve got a guide on how to beat a patent troll from Drew Curtis. In simple terms, make it so the troll winning is much more trouble than they could ever get paid to be worth it. Not exactly a new strategy, as we’ve seen it work years ago, but it is always good to have refresher courses.
And finally, some good news in politics from two stories: some politicians understand issues regarding the internet, while the public is becoming engaged and demanding “life, liberty, and blazing broadband.” And from Austria, where a Pirate Party candidate won a local seat. These two stories should remind those of us in the US that our votes really do matter, and we have an election coming up in about six months. So don’t waste your vote on someone who doesn’t get it, and don’t waste your vote on the “least bad” major candidate. Vote for someone who respresents your values, even if you have to write them in. That will really start scaring those politicians and their whole parties.