Don't Tell Me What Information Wants


So, the iTunes Music Store encryption has been broken. Or so I'm told. I haven't actually managed to download the hack in question.

I have attempted to do so out of curiosity more than anything; I have no problem with the DRM in iTunes. Would I prefer unprotected files? I suppose so. But I seriously doubt the iTMS would exist if the downloads weren't locked up in some way.

It's disturbing to read the discussion on Slashdot about this. Why do people feel the need to turn everything into an ideological war?

It really bugs me when people say "Information Wants To Free!" like it's some sort of rallying cry. Earth to morons: it's not. It's a statement of fact, speaking about how things are and saying little or nothing about how things should be. Information doesn't want anything; information is just data. This clever bit of anthropomorphism is simply summarizing a phenomenon that should be familiar to anyone who's shared a secret -- once you tell someone, you can't un-tell them.

Information wants to be free only in the sense that the spread of information is an inherently progressive phenomenon. The fact that you can't put the genie back in the bottle says nothing about the morality of having, releasing, or sharing a genie, or for that matter a bottle. One could argue that in a truly perfect world you would be able to stuff a djinn back on in.