Gillespie: User Friendly: to an extent

In Gillepsie’s article: “Designed to Technically Frustrate“, it discusses DRM system’s ability to regulate and prevent each of it’s user’s from doing illegal things. This has been created in an attempt to catch any illegal activity before it causes financial harm (Gillepsie, 652). Gillespie discusses the relationship between user’s and their device and how DRM systems are changing this relationship.

Technology has changed so many aspects of everyday life in good and bad ways. The way we communicate has transformed completely. Some say this is good, some say it is bad. Technology has several controversial subjects, one being the recent efforts that prevent user’s from using their devices to its full potential. In Designed to Technically Frustrate, Gillespie states:

“represents an effort to keep users outside of the technology, to urge them to be docile consumers who ‘use as directed’ rather than adopting a more active, inquisitive posture towards their tools.”(Gillespie 653)

DRM systems create a barrier in a sense. Its aim is to prevent the user from performing illegal actions, but at the same time, if the owner is skilled enough, they have the ability to work around DRM systems. In a way this is similar to honor system parking. There is no one standing in the parking lot keeping track who pays and who doesn’t, but rather it is based on the moral of the person.


Kennebunkport Honor System Parking 

 Technology and all the different programs, songs, video’s, etc. that are considered illegal, are still accessible but not taken down. DRM is similar to if there was a person keeping track of who paid and didn’t, but no consequences were given to those who didn’t. Which is similar to another aspect of DRM and technology that Gillespie discusses. Or another example is the ability to illegally download music. In some ways it is restricted, as some mp3 conversion sites prevent you from you from downloading certain songs. Although it is prohibited, it can still be done.  He states:

“the technology is designed not to be opened, its internal workings built to be opaque to inquisitive and technically-skilled users, how does that inscrutability position users as active or passive agents in relationship to their own tools and what are the ramifications if this strategy is widely adopted?”(Gillepsie 653)

With that being said, Gillespie goes on to state that “technology is the perfect chaperone” for monitoring illegal use(Gillespie 653). The ability for the technology to monitor user’s actions is an interesting ability. By doing so it is extracting from the user’s freedom of use and moves them from a more active relationship with their device, to a more passive role. In a world where technology is already advancing too quickly for the average user to grasp, DRM makes the system even more complicated and more digitized. By creating DRM systems, it gives more power to the technology and less to the user. DRM may monitor illegal actions, but this restriction prevents user’s from using the devices they own to the full potential. Often times, the illegal use leads to break throughs in technology that can be benefited from. Although it seems to be a popular subject today, it will soon be replaced by something more controversial.


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