The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'orwellian'
The Untold History of Toontown's SpeedChat, or an account of what happened when some pioneering virtual-community software developers accepted a commission from Disney to build an online community site—one compliant with Disney's values, so that "there could be no swearing, no sex, no innuendo, and nothing that would allow one child (or adult pretending to be a child) to upset another ... No kid will be harassed, even if they don't know they are being harassed.".
"We spent several weeks building a UI that used pop-downs to construct sentences, and only had completely harmless words - the standard parts of grammar and safe nouns like cars, animals, and objects in the world."
"We thought it was the perfect solution, until we set our first 14-year old boy down in front of it. Within minutes he'd created the following sentence:
I want to stick my long-necked Giraffe up your fluffy white bunny.
They added a method to allow direct chat between users that involves the exchange of secret codes that are generated for each user (with parental permission). The idea is that kids would print them out and give them to each other on the playground. This was a great way for Disney to end-run the standard - since Speed Chat was an effective method of preventing the exchange of these codes, and theoretically the codes had to be given "in-person", making the recipient not-a-stranger. Sure, some folks post them on message boards, but presumably those are folks who 1) are adults, or 2) know each other, right? In any case, as long as no one could pass secret codes within Toontown itself, Disney feels safe.The author, Randall Farmer, coined from this the SpeedChat Corollary: "By hook, or by crook, customers will always find a way to connect with each other."
(via BoingBoing (indirectly))
A US broadcasting executive has called for the industry to ditch digital rights management (DRM), because of the bad reputation it has with consumers. From now on, instead of DRM, the industry should use Digital Consumer Enablement (DCE), which does much the same thing, only sounds nicer. You see, instead of restricting what you, the potentially thieving consumer, can do, it enables you to enjoy the content in ways that your benevolent corporate elder siblings want you to:
Digital Consumer Enablement, would more accurately describe technology that allows consumers "to use content in ways they haven't before," such as enjoying TV shows and movies on portable video players like iPods. "I don't want to use the term DRM any longer," said Zitter, who added that content-protection technology could enable various new applications for cable operators.Though as someone pointed out in the comments, every time Hollywood come up with a freshly sanitised name, someone will come up with a more honest acronym for it, like, for example, Digital Captivity Enforcement.
The U.S. government has eliminated hunger in America. Thanks to a recent change in terminology, 35 million formerly hungry Americans now merely have "very low food security".
A Microsoft PR piece on why Digital Rights Management will make you free: (via Rocknerd)
Documents. Using a simple on-screen dialog prompt built into her word processing application, an advertising copywriter specifies that her document, a draft marketing plan, may be viewed and edited by a selection of the client company's managers for one week. She posts the document to a Web portal to share with them. Based on their feedback, she finalizes the plan and posts it. Managers who downloaded the obsolete draft can no longer open it, which prevents confusion as to which document is current.
And it also has the useful effect of destroying audit trails and suppressing documents which may, in future, come back to haunt their authors. DRM is not a value-neutral technology, as some free-market "libertarian" platygaeans would believe; it's one which reinforces existing power structures, and has more to offer to corporations and authoritarian states than to consumers or whistle-blowers.
Email communications. A senior partner in an accounting firm needs to send email to his partners with a confidential contract proposal attached. Besides specifying who may read the proposal and that they may not copy, paste or edit the information, he specifies that the email itself cannot be forwarded. The recipients' email and word processing applications transparently enforce these policies.
Which also has the nice effect of "de-commodifying" open standards for email. The glorious New Galambosianism of end-to-end total information control would depend on file formats remaining proprietary, a trade secret belonging only to a trusted gatekeeper, i.e., Microsoft. Thus it's hardly surprising that Microsoft, who have built an empire from locking people into proprietary file formats, are advocating such a totalitarian vision as the salvation of Capitalism and Civilisation As We Know It.
A thought-provoking essay on the decline of the idea of democracy in the US and McWorld:
There are plenty of signs of our democratic dysfunction, beginning with the fact that we're sending a bunch of generals and corporate executives - professionally groomed to honor anti-democratic procedures - to do the job. Then there is the most elitist media in American history demonstrating its love for democratic debate by blacklisting voices of dissent before and during the Iraq invasion, turning its airwaves over to spooks and military brass, and embedding itself without a hint of skepticism in the administration's agitprop.
'Customer' and 'consumer' were not the only words being used to change the nature of citizenship. David Kemmis, the mayor of Missoula, MT, pointed out that the word 'taxpayer' now "regularly holds the place which in a true democracy would be occupied by 'citizen.' Taxpayers bear a dual relationship to government, neither half of which has anything at all to do with democracy. Taxpayers pay tribute to the government and they receive services from it. So does every subject of a totalitarian regime. What taxpayers do not do, and what people who call themselves taxpayers have long since stopped even imagining themselves doing, is governing."
The latest development in Trustworthy Computing technology: NewCode, a programming language based on Orwellian principles. It is (theoretically) impossible to express security vulnerabilities in NewCode.
I just went to post a CD overseas, and the post office clerk asked me for ID; she entered my details into the computer and wrote a long alphanumeric code from the screen on the package. Apparently, this week laws came into force saying that ID is required for posting packages overseas, and the details are entered into databases.
The era of Total Information Awareness has come to Australia, and gradually all forms of anonymity are being criminalised. How ironic it will be when, mere decades after the triumph of global liberal-democratic capitalism and the vanquishment of totalitarianism, the Free World transforms itself into Stalinist Russia with better technology; a huge shopping-mall-cum-prison-camp whose inmates demand tighter security and heavier chains for their own protection from the evil that lurks outside.
(If you mention Big Brother to most people, they will think it was just a stupid TV show, and probably opine about which housemate they found most annoying and/or sexually attractive. It seems that Orwell's cautionary tale has all but disappeared from public consciousness.)
The scary similarities between Bush's America and Orwell's 1984. From the state of permanent war to the
Ministry of Truth Office of Strategic Influence, and more. Perhaps soon they'll introduce a daily Three Minute Hate, with summary dismissal or detention for non-participation?