Saturday, January 05, 2008

How are you faring in the code war?

In the world of political turmoil, after the sticks and stones have been exhausted and the respective armies retreat from the obvious show of force. Behind the scenes of stand off negotiations there exist an information oneupmanship we termed a cold war. It is just as fierce as a weapons war and yes there are casualties. That is a consequence of human nature to vie for power, control or to just survive. This thought to use information to manipulate outcomes is also a part of our culture. History bears witness to our concern of who knows what and what they do with that information. Society is based on the relationships of persons who use specific knowledge to produce and offer goods and services. We have even certified certain ones to apply knowledge to help us get on with life. Doctors, lawyers and educators, etc. This is all surface stuff. Behind the scenes is the real struggle a kind of "code war". We are constantly engaged in a battle of control issues. Who has the right to access, who has the right to add or delete, who has the right to use, and even own information. This spans the whole world of information from entertainment to personal info. I use music for an example. I grew up with phonograph records and collected them like many. When tape recording devices became a consumer product the question arose did we have the right to make personal copies of copyrighted material for our own use. The recording device made it possible to open a closed market. Ones who were making the music lost control of their material and was being bought and sold and traded without their consent or compensation. We went from reel to reel, to 8 track, to cassettes, and consumers had the freedom of access and use. Then the world changed because of CD's. You had to have a special machine to record CD's and it was not as portable as cassette players were. There were no consumer portable CD recording devices to my knowledge. Now music makers could control their market again until CD recording devices became popular in computers. Today we use CD's and DVD's like potato chips. We also have iPod and cell phones with flash memory technology which are the new recording media. It is so logical that a skirmish erupted because now the data itself is the medium of the information. We fight over data streams, access, control, and ownership again. This is the main engagement of many, many people. A code war over who has info and who shouldn't. It is what drives the economy, makes and breaks lives. We fight this code war on many levels, but what ever level it effects us all. When you look at computer software, most of us thought that if we bought it we owned it, we could do with it what we want. The user agreement, which we never read says that we have only bought the right to use it within the limits set forth by its makers. Users even thought they could freely make a backup copy so that if the original media becomes worn, the original copy becomes corrupted, they could still possess it. Some companies stopped providing original software on disks and sale you preinstalled software. If something goes wrong with the software in your possession, you must jump through hoops to get a new copy. I won't go into why formats change and upgrades and other things. It is hard to pin down the motives companies use to market their stuff other than to make money. Not really a bad thing but it's you who takes the hit.
Is there a compromise in all this code war stuff? The world is a very large expanse, there is room for a lot of solutions, but humans have such a narrow focus, it is called what is real to me and what I understand to be the truth or reality. We cap that off by asking is what I believe, what you believe? or by insisting you believe what I believe. We take sides, arm ourselves and go to battle, standing up for our perceptions, our convictions and we don't always care about casualties. Curious thing about cold wars or code wars, we don't always know that we are evolved or engaged in it. Looking at larger pictures or history helps but often makes you feel powerless. Being too strong or being too exact can be devastating if we are proved wrong or the current of the age is against us. Sorry for the philosophy trek. Seems with every new technology there are more questions to the point we don't recognize ourselves anymore. Either we humans have a virus or some other malignant code in our DNA. I see symptoms in people all over the globe and it is the same disease. We are all looking for a string of code that will make us or take us to where we think we should be. We try to fill our moments or strive for something sustaining a lifetime, even looking for a legacy. Is it in the code we have access to or is there code others are hiding from us? We search our bodies, probe the mind and attempt to ascertain what is the spirit. Looking for the string of code that makes it all comprehendable. The whole world is mad with people wanting/needing a string of code that will answer all the questions, solve all the problems and settle all the disputes. We know it is out there, in there, somewhere, it exists. If we think we have a part of it, we fight as if we have all of it and even would force others to drop what they know, take up what we know. Be assimilated or eliminated some have even said. The battle over this string of code pervades all of our psychology and everything we touch on earth and no one is exempt, excluded. And some would say, there is no code, but what drives us to seek knowledge if none exists?
Computers are at the center of the code war. They help us to acquire, sort and use information more than in any previous generations. Yet computers are not the code. The needs of man existed long before any technology, look at history. Is there some element that needs to be added to man or some thought that needs to be realized by man or what? Man is looking for a string of code, that is a fact of life.

1 comment:

Bebhin said...

Good for people to know.