Counterexamples to Tech Myths

Charles Mann, who wrote The Heavenly Jukebox, wrote another thoughtful article on Internet regulation. I only take issue with his assertion that hardware affords better protection against illegal copying than software. For example, if print media, music, movies and so on are dispersed through the Internet only to specialized hardware (Music players, e-books, etc.) and not computers, he claims that this will be harder for people to hack. But what if someone writes code so that computers can emulate these devices (including MAC addresses, ID numbers blown into silicon and the like) so as to fool the servers dispersing the content? The only way to prevent that from happening is to prevent the content from being dispersed on the Internet at all. Still, his Techreview piece raises some good counterexamples to techno-libertarian dogma.

Another neat article I came across in the last few days was a New York Times article about tantalum mining in Africa. In addition to the difficulty in recycling computer components, this is another counterexample to the assertion that the consumer electronics industry has less environmental impact than other industries.

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