Quiet. Too quiet.

March 23, 2001

It figures that the day after I mention the All Your Base phenomenon, Jed Hagen would indirectly point me at a complete history. That’s the neat thing about the internet, almost anything has at least one person dedicated to archiving it. #

Stupid Intellectual Property Tricks

NUBlog talks about attempts by publishers to control every aspect of e-book use, linking to an article about Adobe’s e-publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which cannot be read aloud.

Sort of. Apparently, by “read aloud” Adobe is not referring to the practice of reading things aloud, but rather to a software feature of their e-book reader called Read Aloud, which has the computer read the book to you. “Give” and “lend” also refer to software functions that, in this case, were disabled. A more recent article by Lawrence Lessig looks at the reasoning behind this functionality, and concludes that this isn’t so much horrible as bizarre.

According to Adobe, they wanted features like Give, Lend, and Read Aloud to always be enabled. After all, they simulate characteristics of actual, physical books. Certain publishing companies disagreed, and wanted to be able to control whether their customers would be able to give each other their books. (From a publishing company’s perspective, this makes sense because it means people can’t give their friends their copies of a book when they’re done with it; the friends have to buy their own.)

According to Mr Lessig, Adobe does deserve some credit for considering these issues. “Rather than constructing a system that gives it perfect control over the use of the content it makes available, Adobe is designing into its code equivalents to the freedoms that exist in real space.” Compare, for example, region coding in DVDs, which prevents people from importing disks from outside their region.

Some unanswered questions remain. Like, what happens when the copyright on a work expires? And, why is Adobe putting restrictions on Alice, which is already in the public domain? At least publishers who use Adobe’s e-book technology will have to consciously decide to deny their readers rights that we take for granted in actual books.

On a somewhat-related note, NUBlog looks at research indicating that poorer, less-educated Canadians are more likely to use Napster. (Presumably this also applies to non-Canadians.) One can make all sorts of unfair generalizations here, but it is interesting to note that this group is less-represented on the internet in general. Apparently convenient access to music succeeded in getting people on-line where global connectivity, on-line shopping, and irritating trendiness failed. I’m not sure where that falls on the good/bad spectrum. #


All of the shows I watch regularly on TV are, to some degree, comedies. None of them are traditional sitcoms, and only two are half-hour shows. Apparently, I’m not alone in thinking the funniest TV writing is often in dramas these days. Freed from the sitcom format and the need to produce laughter on a regular basis, a drama can create humor that flows from the characters and situations, rather than having the cast throw around zingers and get into zany predicaments for a half-hour.

(Sadly, The Simpsons is heading towards the latter model. It’s still funny, but it doesn’t have the soul it used to.) #