The Digital Media Project  
Source M. Gauvin
Title DRM, Social Responsibility and the Prevailing Crisis Ridden Economic Paradigm No. 080107gauvin01


DRM, Social Responsibility and the Prevailing Crisis Ridden Economic Paradigm

There are two basic categories of Content use the Wild Wild Web (www) and DRM that could be better labelled as Personal Rights Management.

Wild wild web content use

In the www everyone gets the benefit of creation and distribution at low cost but with no sustainable business model other than providing a horizontal service platform (OS, search engine, skype, ebay etc..) here the game is to be first and get the largest user community.  Horizontal service platforms have, in the severely flawed, incoherent and profoundly deceitful conventional economic paradigm, theoretical income ceilings based on a hypothetical users * available user cash. The cash available per user is a finite amount that may be direct (from the user) or indirect (advertising value of the user),  in the case of companies such as MS and Apple it is direct while in most other cases it is indirect.    

The advertising revenue model the only one fuelling the deflated .com bubble is going to be blown away in the next few years as the corporations today paying for ads on the basis of user hits realize that they cannot accurately measure their return on investment on digital based advertising because no system is capable of maintaining both of: 

1)  Control over content creation and distribution

2)  Benefits of the digital paradigm now irrevocably part of global corporate structure.  

It is a strange time where large stake holders are forced into maintaining a public service that on the one hand they have become strategically dependent on but that on the other hand are incapable of extracting desperately needed returns.   

In the past and probably still today, the internet advertising budget has been maintained because it still represents less than 10% of total advertising (internet + billboards, analogue type media etc) and is still commensurate with the division of digital and analogue content on a global scale.  But when and if pure interactive digital media exceeds its present less than 10% of total content level, corporations will be forced to reconsider what they are getting for their money which, short of some new technology that will give them control over the content chosen to be viewed by consumers in digital networks, will not be sufficient because even if they are able to assess the interaction with users on a case by case basis they will do so only in an environment of absolute competition i.e. incessant multiplication of competitors undermining any ability to advantageously project into the future on the basis of present advertising results a key requirement to sustain the exigencies of the prevailing financial system investment rationale.  Thus, investment in .com advertising will be irrevocably undermined to the point that .com based advertising revenue streams will quickly evaporate.

 Moreover, I would suspect that today digital advertising effectiveness is not the prime reason for buying it but rather it is the anticipation of a yet to be made discovery of how to build a centrally controlled content creation and distribution system on top of a decentralized self regulating multi stake holder global digital infrastructure.  This is what represents the real incentive for advertising companies to keep their fingers in the .com pie so to speak.  Good luck to these phased out pragmatists but I am afraid the ploy won’t work. 

 Thus and given the inability to implement centrally controlled digital creation and distribution models necessary for the effective implementation of the predominant Edward Bernays style mass control, pivotally important to the maintenance of the centrally controlled economic models that are most threatened by a decentralized economic paradigm, the underlying user hit business model revenue streams will promptly dry up in a massive digital business cash drought.  This I predict will happen in the next few years and anyone seriously concerned about the digital space cannot continue to talk about digital business models meaningfully without recognising that conventional economics and digital value representation are mutually exclusive like water and oil.  To continue this dialectic of digital business models in a matter of fact way when in reality there is no business model without including a profound analysis of the underlying economic paradigm is to be visibly irrelevant and self navel oriented.  In light of how present economic wisdom is reaping havoc of our world  before our very eyes and the evident fact that its structural flaws can only be multiplied to the nth degree in the digital, it is frankly embarrassing to witness how in blind faith business modelling is proposed and talked about  and is paramount to proposing a building project on top of quick sand.

DRM based content use

Now in the DRM world we have the usual deconstructionist wordsmiths at work with the intellectual insulting semantic equation of TPM = Digital Rights Management. However as  I have discovered the possibilities for effective DRM practically free of any TPM is not only  viable but the only coherent means to promote such DRM in terms of the horizontal user hit based business model the only remaining prospect left at least for as long as the advertising money magnet persist which is not long. Here, the problem of there being no stable business model is not alleviated but again as mentioned above that problem is NEVER GOING TO BE SOLVED BY TECHNOLOGY DRM or otherwise other than the prospect of technology bringing to bear conditions that force an economic paradigm shift and hopefully the right one at that.

So then why persist with this DRM kick?

Well my answer as we sit on the fence and watch the world teeter between either WWIII with its usual preamble of torture and citizen rights abuse or a nose dive into global economic mayhem is simply that DRM done properly  i.e. management of everyone's data for everyone's benefit is a question of fundamental rights that cannot and should never be contingent on any business interests particularly when it is now common knowledge that the root structure underlying business is riddled with inequity, injustice and plain incoherence not to mention rampant stupidity and the only reason anyone continues to support this perverse system is because of subtle coercion and fear but never because of any true underlying soundness. 

DRM (the more than TPM kind) can never be brought about on the basis of Conventional Business Model (CBM) needs but rather it necessarily must be brought about on the basis of inherent Personal Interest Models (PIM) anchored in a fundamental understanding of human rights and that may, when our autistic economic paradigm catches up to the technological reality, become a sustainable economic network of new business models of which only some may be vaguely reminiscent of past practices.  The predominant theme will be that value will not be distributed through a pyramid top down economic power model as it is today, but rather it will be distributed normally across the population in a network of niches of value created directly and collectively by users.


Playing the DRM Business Model game is now and on the basis of the reality I have just outlined a proverbial waste of time unless it proposes a business model offering a horizontal (PIM) service approach capable of sustaining itself in the interim between now and when the internet advertising revenue has evaporated but that will nonetheless persist in demand afterward such a fateful time.  If those services truly achieve the laudable social ideals that the EC claims to espouse on behalf of the EU citizens then they will be the only infrastructure available upon which a new economic paradigm will emerge while the contrary would tend to predict absolute chaos a truly terrifying prospect. 

Now, those corporations that whish to survive into this new age will need to scale down their profit ambitions and be ready to diversify into many independent niches for long term stability with very slim margins far less than appears to be acceptable in the current economic paradigm but that nonetheless the only realistic alternative.

The EC and its lofty declarations of pursuit of user oriented benefits will prove to have been a fraud unless it truly supports new PIMs over old CBM prerogatives and to do that it will have to do more than pay lip service to the concept of user rights, it will need to coalesce to produce highly efficient programs for the building of low cost dependable services and support systems so that any entity will be capable of autonomously managing and producing any type of information and knowledge free of the any old CBM type influence. It will have to charter true service based DRM comparable to the analogue public postal service where each citizen gets the benefit of a minimum and necessary secure and dependable digital delivery system for their Intellectual Property and personal information irrespective of whether or not that information is used in a business context.  Such a service will require a high level of respect for personal privacy and personal rights for it to survive and be trusted a sine qua non requirement for its existence given the underlying decentralised nature of the network that will support it.

There is truly a new world emerging and today is a time for everyone to revisit knee jerk allegiances because if ever there was a time for the prophecy of “the first will be last and the last first”  to materialise it is now.