Helen Popkin
By
msnbc.com
updated 5/10/2007 9:38:11 AM ET 2007-05-10T13:38:11

A little over a week after the Digg user revolt over that HD DVD encryption key, there’s not much left to say that hasn’t already been reported, editorialized, posted, podcasted and blogged into oblivion. Except maybe this:

O.M.G.! Kevin Rose is frackin’ adorable! How come none of ya’ll ever mentioned this?! How is it I never noticed until now that one of the pioneers on the new frontier of online community is a major hottie? Look at him, with his bad haircut and his AV-closet moon tan. I bet you a dollar he’s wearing a hoodie, right this very nano second! I’m sayin’, all those hipster boys stumbling around Williamsburg, Brooklyn wish they were so cool. Or smart. Or loaded.

Well, it’s not like Rose’s cutie pie image isn’t all over cyberspace. Knowing me, it probably took that crack in his voice during a recent Twit.tv podcast to make me take notice — the flummoxed way he discussed Digg’s decision to remove all posts referencing the rogue encryption key after receiving a cease and desist notice. And the stunned tone in which he described the ensuing user rebellion, in which the Internet community rose up and posted links to the offending encryption seemingly faster than Digg could remove them. And of course, Rose’s surrendering blog entry, relenting to the obnoxiously powerful wishes of Digg’s community.

"You'd rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company. We hear you, and effective immediately we won't delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be. If we lose, then what the hell, at least we died trying."

Awwwwwwwww!

As the rest of the retail and publishing world struggles to harness the mighty power of online community, there’s something endearing that even the guys who are supposed to be the experts don’t have it figured out. Digg, for all its success and innovation, could not foresee the Frankenstein nature of their creation. Rose and the rest of the Digg co-founders, are on the forefront of technology. Yet they still succumb to (arguably) bad legal advice about (possibly) invalid cease-and-desist notice based on some iffy copyright law.

This then, is the epic battle of the Internet. Digg has represented the zeitgeists of popular snarkiness, the wisdom of the crowd, and user generated repurposing (if not the current buzzword of “user generated content”). Digg doesn’t necessarily display the most shining qualities of people on the Internet. But like Sanjaya , you don't have to be good to represent.

The RIAA, Sony, and their digital-rights-management kith and kin are the Empire. These companies are heavy-handed even when they're doing the right thing. Often they're subversive (see the rootkit debacle). And, well, they're fighting the wrong fight, trying to turn back the tide of change.

What's funny is that the people trying to stop the DVD's from being hacked are supposed to represent the business interests of creative people (film makers, musicians, etc.), but they're getting frustrated at every turn by people who are actually fairly creative. Have you seen the code hack Photoshops? They're pretty hilarious.

We're never going to get to the soft-edged utopian society of “Star Trek” where everything is free because of logic and onesies. However, computing power and free, anonymous communication in the hands of the masses means the "good" old days of We-Make-It-You-Buy-It are gone. If I have the time, I can remove that jerk Mohinder from “Heroes” all on my own. Still, as much as I hate that guy, I'm too lazy to do much about it.

That's what the producers of content have to understand. While keeping hardware hacks and original content secret is no longer possible, they can make money by indulging our laziness. We’d rather not have to go to the Warez and pick up viruses while downloading hacks. We’d actually pay real live dollars to transact business with a company we can trust and get good service from.

Right now, the whole DRM issue seems to revolve around the fact that Sony wants to sell us something that is then theirs. We can't change it, can't play it on another drive, etc., etc. Who wants to do business with Sony though, because it turns out to be worse than dealing with people who — for fun — hack code and create viruses?

The users may be revolting, but the big companies are too — in a different way, if you catch my clutzy pun. And not nearly as cute.

© 2013 msnbc.com Reprints

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments