From: Bruce Sterling [email@example.com]
Sent: Monday, December 02, 2002 8:18 PM
Subject: Viridian Note 00351: Decaying Media
- Key concepts:
- intellectual property, planned obsolescence,
DVDs, Viridian Embrace Decay Principle
- Attention Conservation Notice:
- It's really a "Dead Media
Project" note disguised as a Viridian Note.
almost perfectly preserved as "new media" die off in
droves. Go ahead, take all the dead media you like!
Maybe you'd like to run the project!
Communication Arts magazine 9th Interactive Design
Wacky retro-tech casemods. Rush against the tide
of obsolescence by making your computer resemble
your Mom's toaster.
Weird old TV sets, all teched-up.
Rebuild an Apple I.
Ludicrous tattooing robot. Nice graphic, though.
Source: Ron Harris, Associated Press
Now you see it, now you don't!
By Ron Harris / Associated Press
Sunday, December 1, 2002
"SAN FRANCISCO – On a dismal, rainy day after watching Mel Gibson battle the English in 'Braveheart,' wouldn't it
be nice to simply throw away the DVD instead of slogging
the rental back to Blockbuster? (((I'd bet good money Ron
Harris didn't write this blockheaded lede paragraph.)))
"Technology that makes DVDs self-destruct in a few
hours or days has already been developed, raising the
prospect of a world without late fees.
"In one recent promotion, Atlantic Records made a
limited run of DVDs containing footage of the hip-hop
group Nappy Roots that was viewable only for a few hours
before the disc 'expired.' (((Has the group expired
yet? Must we wait long?)))
"MGM Studios used self-destructing DVDs with music
videos and trailers to promote the new James Bond movie,
'Die Another Day.' Movie critics were told the DVD would
self-destruct in 36 hours – a nod to 007's gadget-
providing character Q. (((I can imagine some serious
alternative uses for auto-decaying storage media. For
instance, pirates would find them very handy for
destroying legal evidence against themselves.)))
"And self-expiring discs also showed up at MTV's
recent Latin American awards show in Miami. ((("Los
"But to reach consumers more broadly, any promising
technology needs to make sound business sense. (((Dream
on, pal – I'm on the Internet!))) In an entertainment
industry where profits depend in part on multiple rentals
and late fees, disposable discs represent a disruptive
technology, and none of the big players have endorsed it
publicly. (((The late-fee scam is a particularly
ingenious way to profit off human fallibility.)))
"New York-based Flexplay, which ensured the timely
deaths of these promotional DVDs, has yet to produce any
full-length movies with the technology, in which chemical
changes eventually render discs unusable."
Link: The Flexplay FAQ
(((Good for them: "Flexplay encourages all users to
recycle their Flexplay DVDs. Flexplay is working with
several organizations to establish post-consumer DVD
"Providence, R.I.-based SpectraDisc developed similar
technology and has courted most of the major studios, but
none has been willing to sign a production deal."
Spectra is also into some hairy ubicomp tagging stuff.
"'The decision process has been in stall mode now for
at least a year and a half,' said SpectraDisc chief
executive Nabil Lawandy. 'It's all in the hands of the
content providers. They have the leverage along with
distribution.' (((Boy, no wonder the tech is in "stall
mode." Why, during the Dark Ages, the whole of Western
Civilization was in "stall mode.")))
"Flexplay's chief executive, Alan Blaustein, agrees
the science is ready to go, even if Hollywood is not."
(((Well, that ought to solve Bill Joy's problems about
"relinquishing technology" – just make Hollywood our
technology czar across the board.)))
"Another reason major studios could be wary is that
Flexplay and SpectraDisc may not have resolved potential
intellectual-property issues surrounding their patented
technologies. (((Has anybody anywhere ever really
"resolved" their "intellectual property issues"? I mean,
without being totally dead and utterly forgotten?)))
"Both Flexplay and SpectraDisc add a chemical time-
bomb to DVDs that begins ticking once the package is open
and the discs are exposed to air. (((I have to like this,
somehow. Think of all the consumer items that would
improve with "chemical time bombs" that rendered them
inoperative. Land mines, stale pharmaceuticals, political
"SpectraDisc applies an outer chemical layer to the
disc that begins evaporating and changing in color as the
expiration time nears. Flexplay integrates its chemicals
into the inner layers of the disc. (((Aestheticize the
"SpectraDisc DVDs turn blue. Flexplay discs also turn
darker, becoming so opaque that the laser inside a DVD
player no longer can read the disc. (((Burn a cool skull
and crossbones into them as they rot.)))
"The technology can also work on music CDs and software
CD-ROMs, according to SpectraDisc, but movies are the
target, since consumers generally buy music and software
to keep. (((Sez who? The music business thrives by
selling the same music over and over in more "advanced"
media, forcing people to junk vinyl records, tape
cassettes, wire recording, wax cylinders, etc etc. Why
not rationalize this process and force people to pay for
all their music once a year?)))
"At Netflix, the online movie-rental service, self-
destructing DVDs would be a natural fit – customers won't
have to mail back discs after watching them. Founder and
CEO Reed Hastings said Netflix will use whatever DVDs
Hollywood decides to produce – but he doesn't see these
Link: Netflix. Man, that's a lot of disks.
Woah, Bollywood movies!
"'A cool technology doesn't amount to a hill of beans
unless the studios decide to support it,' Hastings said.
(((It may not amount to a hill of beans even then – see
the miserable failure of DivX.)))
"None of the major moviemakers contacted by The
Associated Press – Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., Vivendi
Universal, MGM and The Walt Disney Co. – would comment on
plans to make self-destructing movies. (((I promise you
one thing: if Disney made them, they would never, ever
call them "self-destructing movies.")))
"If such technology were to reach the market, it could
force movie-rental houses to rethink their pricing.
Blockbuster collects 15 percent to 20 percent of its
revenue through late fees, said Ryan Jones, an analyst for
The Yankee Group. (((I wonder how much they make from
users who die with Blockbuster property in their
"Nonetheless, Blockbuster says it'll bite if consumers
demand them – even if it means no more late fees.
"'Our goal isn't to make money through extended
viewing fees,' said Karen Raskopf, a Blockbuster
spokeswoman. 'Our goal is to satisfy customers with the
movies they want in the format they want.' (((Oh for
shame Karen. Oh what a lie.)))
Karen calls off the Blockbuster deal with Enron.
"Raskopf said late fees were necessary when movies
came only on video tape because they were expensive to
buy. DVDs are cheaper for Blockbuster, so the company can
consider disposables, she said. ((Besides, rental DVDS
scratch up and get grimy so fast that they really bite as
"While self-destructing DVDs would give content
providers more control over distribution, it still
wouldn't prevent illegal copying.
"'It only takes a half an hour to rip a DVD,' Jones
said. (((The horror, the horror. It took me longer than
that just to write this Viridian Note. And most of it was
written by Ron Harris! Sorry Ron, but we call that "fair
use" in the print biz. Besides, Viridian Notes vaporize
right off people's screens in a matter of instants.)))
"The entertainment industry already has found other
ways to limit distribution. (((It's getting good here.
This is real tech decadence. Imagine explaining this to
Vannevar Bush in 1945.)))
"Recording labels commonly send music critics
promotional material laden with low-tech copy protection.
For example, tapes of new songs are sometimes sent in
portable players glued shut to prevent copying.'
Link: Yep, they glue 'em. They glue the headphones
"Self-destructing DVDs would create considerable waste.
A study conducted for Flexplay by environmental policy
expert Jonathan Koomey found that if disposable DVDs made
up 10 percent of all U.S. video rentals, an additional 350
million DVDs would be discarded, creating 5,600 metric
tons of solid waste annually. The environmental impact
would be mitigated somewhat by fewer cars making return
trips to rental stores, Koomey suggested. (((Make 'em out
of something that vaporizes entirely.)))
"SpectraDisc's self-destructing DVDs can be reused if a
new coat of the play-limiting chemicals is reapplied,
Lawandy said. Flexplay's discs can only be broken down and
recycled as plastic waste."
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
IT WAS A MOVIE
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