“These days it seems like every time you turn on one of your gadgets you have to fight with its DRM to get it to do what you want. The home movie of your daughter opening her birthday presents is ruined by a patch of grey fog that shifts with every movement of the camera, tracking sluggishly to keep the TV screen in the background obscured. From the codes embedded in TV’s update pattern your camera had decided the show was not licensed for this form of reproduction and blocked it. You wish you had thought to turn it off at the time, but squinting into the camera’s tiny screen it hadn’t looked so bad.
Somewhere out there, hackers and open-source software programmers are still working, beleaguered by diminishing supplies of usable hardware, ever tighter controls on imports and the furious unflinching eye of the authorities. They are constantly interrogated, their work searched for copyright and patent infringements, for any new technologies the content providers and national security services can’t control. They can write competitive applications, they can make the systems work faster, more efficiently, if they weren’t so fearful, they could make it free. What they can’t do is tell anyone that needs to know.”
Tarmle has synthesised many of the implications of DRM and other architectures of control, from analogue hole blockers to the idea of a few marginalised die-hard practical technology enthusiasts existing on the edge of society into a chilling prophecy.
There’s also the flip-side: a vision of a less restricted future, in ‘Burnoff: Part 2 – The Good Guys Win’. I know which future I’d rather live in.