Datas Day Out Has Just Begun

 
 
By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2001-03-19 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

When the Napster online file-sharing service was ordered March 5 to block the exchange of copyrighted material, a Los Angeles radio station called me to ask what people would do next

When the Napster online file-sharing service was ordered March 5 to block the exchange of copyrighted material, a Los Angeles radio station called me to ask what people would do next. The interviewer seemed to expect a list of other music-sharing Web sites, but the essence of my answer was that digital music is now everywhere, that every major server farm, whether in the enterprise or academia, probably has at least one covert repository of MP3-formatted music files. "So," the interviewer asked, "the genie is out of the bottle?" Exactly so.

I saw the handwriting on the wall at this years Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where several brand-name makers of home entertainment equipment were showing stereo system components that played MP3 music off the Internet. It seemed to me that these vendors needed no further convincing that people would want to do this, one way or another, and that there was no reason to leave their potential business on the table for someone else to pick up. Even Apples new iMac ad campaign includes the line "Rip. Mix. Burn."

Not only is the genie out of the bottle, hes even speaking pig Latin: One utility program scrambles descriptive text in files to evade simple filtering tools based on titles or artists names. "Awberrystray Ieldsfay, by the Eatlesbay"? The New York Times Web site once posted a Java applet that transformed text into a baseball game play-by-play narrative or reversed that process so that a message could evade keyword filters (the kind that look for words like "bomb") without looking like an encrypted file. Other tools embed data in what look like ordinary image files.

Data has unlocked its chastity belt. It wants to go out and have fun, and it wont ever be locked up again.

 
 
 
 
Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at salesforce.com, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developers' technical requirements on the company's evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter company's first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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