Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Defective by Design? 

Many times we see ideas and products around us and intuitively see the simplicity, elegance and value - and that age old reaction - "why did I not think of that?".

Naturally there is also the reverse. Where something is so obviously ugly and a grubby attempt to mostly disenfrancise customers. The music / entertainment industry driven by Disney is a point in case - and its promotion of digital rights management (DRM) technology.

It is a sad state when we see quotes such as "If consumers even know there's a DRM, what it is, and how it works, we've already failed" - Disney Executive.

While the mainstream thrust of the software industry is towards open standards, open platform and open collaborative projects with open source, the message does not seem to have penetrated to people who are still trying to operate in a pre-dot-com mode of patent-own-monopoly as their business model. Collaborate-share-enable and the freedoms its provides through greater wealth creation does not seem to be getting through.

Many of these issues cut to the heart of what is a healthy democracy and who controls the means of distribution of information and content? The Defective by Design group have taken up the challenge of educating the public at large about the issues. They have a wealth of materials, videos and more online.

Meanwhile I foresee many more similar challenges and conflicts coming. One such example is the grubby attempt to extort dane-geld from hybrid car manufacturers based on pending patents issued. Again the old model and thinking applies - when people innovate and provide real solutions to burgeoning problems in society then their reward is become a target for the less well intentioned. Notice that the fundamental ideas behind hybrid gas-electric powerplants were first applied on railways to trains in the 1950's - so how can anyone realistic claim to have invented a whole new ground breaking idea here? Unfortunately the notion of what is a patentable or unique idea has been trivialized to the point of the absurd.

I prefer the notion of - Successful by Design.

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