July 22, 2007

Vapor OS

Filed under: Weblog — swann @ 2:13 pm

In his article Cloud OS and the Personal Server Rod Boothby explains that content and services become more valuable when they can be shared between users. The solution offered by his company Teqlo enables users to integrate business processes and make them available through an open API. The objective is to build a community of users around the Teqlo platform.

Although I think that their approach is promising for a Web 2.0 startup I don’t think that Rod should call it the “Cloud OS”. As Andy Broyles already commented, a web service is not an OS. Moreover, their platform does not even function like a cloud. Since their platform requires a central server, Teqlo users are not only dependent on a centralized technical infrastructure, but also on a central legal entity being subject to Californian law. In their Privacy Policy they explain that they will reveal personal information of users to third parties (U.S. government, subcontractors) if necessary. While I do not deny that sometimes access to personal information might be needed (e.g. in case of a criminal investigation) I favour technical infrastructures that enable me keep control over my personal data:

  • Dedicated server hardware (if necessary operated by an admin I trust)
  • OS based on Open Source software
  • APIs, interfaces and communication protocols based on open standards
  • No centralized records of user data and use data

The “Cloud OS” will arrive, but it will not even be delivered by service providers like google, Yahoo, Teqlo etc. If Rod Boothby reconsiders the concept of a cloud he will understand that to create truly personal servers he will have to open source his tools and release them to the community in the same fashion as the WordPress developers did. Thitherto I will call his platform “Vapor OS”.

July 11, 2007

Daniel’s DRM Dilemma

Filed under: Weblog — swann @ 6:07 pm

Daniel Eran is a tech consultant and writer in San Francisco, California. He rides a motorcycle, likes to work on art projects… and some time ago he wrote on his blog why the concept of interoperable DRM makes no sense. I think that interoperable DRM makes sense, and therefore I feel prompted to comment his article.

In a paragraph titled “The Quandary of Interoperable DRM” Daniel writes:

Why can’t the music industry just adopt an open standard for DRM? The simple answer is that the basic concept of interoperable DRM makes no sense.

Since the point of DRM is to limit interoperability by using secrets, there is no open way to deliver a DRM system that does what it’s supposed to do. If it were open, then it wouldn’t be secret. When the secrets get out, it’s now open, but it no longer works as DRM.

This is Daniel’s line of argument:

(1) the point of DRM is to limit interoperability by using secrets

I don’t understand what the author means with secrets. Secret specifications? Secret keys? Trade secrets?

Granted, some operators and device manufacturers use proprietary software to bundle content with services and devices (e.g. games with consoles). But I disagree that this is the point of DRM. In my opinion the purpose of DRM is that a rights-holder (e.g. author, producer) who has the copyright of a work can express permissions and constraints on the use of copyrighted content. If a device can not use a given piece of content because it is missing a secret this is not necessarily due to a limitation of interoperability.

(2) therefore there is no open way to deliver a DRM system that does what it is supposed to do

I don’t really understand the author’s notion of an “open way to deliver a DRM system”.

Is he thinking of a DRM system that is based on an open standard or a DRM system that is implemented as Open Source software?

(3) If it were open, then it wouldn’t be secret

I don’t understand this conclusion.

I can think of several techologies that are designed to restrict unauthorized users to use content which are based on open specifications and implemented as open source software (e.g. GnuPG, OpenSSL,…). These systems work as long as the secret keys are secret.

(4) When the secrets get out, it’s now open, but it no longer works as DRM.

It’s really difficult to follow. As secret… works as DRM? This argument is mysterious. Is DRM a secret? I am starting to belief that for Daniel the concept of DRM is a secret.

(5) The simple answer is that the concept of interoperable DRM makes no sense

Daniel’s simple answer might be too simple. It may be true for Daniel, because for him neither the concept of interoperability nor the concept of DRM make sense. In case he wants to write more on interoperable DRM I would recommend him to look up the DMP definitions of these terms:

Interoperability: The ability of a User to technically execute Functions through Interfaces and Protocols, based on open specifications, with predictable results

DRM system: A system of Information Technology components and services which strives to distribute and control content and its rights. This operates in an environment driven by law, policies and business models

July 2, 2007

Exodus am Rhein

Filed under: Logbuch — swann @ 10:02 pm

Pizzaservice in Marco Dessardos Luxushütte, im Angesicht von Merijin Vrijs Hochwassersimulation den Ernstfall vor Augen – Marco, Merijin, thank you so much for your contributions to the Inselsommer. You and your sculptures have illuminated my Parkinsel asylum.

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