Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Internet: The only thing more popular than the iPhone is...

a seemingly random string of hex characters, but that is not the entire story.

I posted earlier about Kevin Rose's comment he made on an article. Well, he eventually changed his stance and allowed the HD-DVD encryption key to be posted on Digg. Heck, he even submitted the most popular story which includes the key.

Just as a little explanation according to Jared: in order to get the move off of a HD-DVD (same thing also applies for DVDs and BlueRay, except it has been cracked for DVDs for a while now) is a key to basically "unzip" the movie. That is a bad term to use, but in simple terms the data on the disk is garbage. Without the decryption key it is meaningless. The problem with the system is that the players that consumers buy have this key built in (but well hidden) and it is just a matter of time before people find it. Now, this key alone does nothing, but coupled with software means that the DRM that the MPAA "depends" on is not basically useless.

The official response after everything at Digg went crazy can be seen on Digg's Blog. Their first response was that they were legally required to take down the submitted articles in question. This is when things went crazy. Basically, there is the type of spam you get in your inbox, then there are thousands of angry computer geeks all posting creative ways of having the "illegal number" in an article. At points, it was actually quite funny.

My favorite was definitely the post that linked to the Wikipedia article about IPv6 (which just happens to have the same number of characters as the decryption key). I can't seem to find it on Digg at the moment (and no wonder the amount of diggs in a short period of time must have broke some records). In the comment of the post, more or less, said that a specific IP address was available for use in the system. It doesn't take many guesses to figure out what that IP address was.

After the madness continued for hours, a new blog article was posted on Digg, by Kevin Rose this time, which basically said Digg was going to go down fighting and leave the articles up. This was directly a result of all of the anger over people claiming their accounts were being banned and articles actually disappearing left and right for a while. The decryption key was even included in the title! Kevin's comments are so important I quoted them below:

Today was an insane day. And as the founder of Digg, I just wanted to post my thoughts…

In building and shaping the site I’ve always tried to stay as hands on as possible. We’ve always given site moderation (digging/burying) power to the community. Occasionally we step in to remove stories that violate our terms of use (eg. linking to pornography, illegal downloads, racial hate sites, etc.). So today was a difficult day for us. We had to decide whether to remove stories containing a single code based on a cease and desist declaration. We had to make a call, and in our desire to avoid a scenario where Digg would be interrupted or shut down, we decided to comply and remove the stories with the code.

But now, after seeing hundreds of stories and reading thousands of comments, you’ve made it clear. You’d rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company. We hear you, and effective immediately we won’t delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be.

If we lose, then what the hell, at least we died trying.

Digg on,


Back to the point I was first making, Earlier today this story only had about 18,000 diggs (I say only in jest). The article about the announcement of the iPhone had, and has had for a while, 22,000 some diggs. I just checked a little while ago, and as of the posting of this entry, the article (posted by Kevin) has over 30,000 diggs! (I am sure the 30,000 it has now will seem like a small number as the diggs continue to accumulate.)

This can be seen on Digg's top stories of all time (assuming it has not been a year since I have written this or something tops this event).

Anyone that is observant will notice I did not post the decryption key, nor a picture of the key, nor a URL said key anywhere on my blog (although the key is only 1 click away). I have a feeling the legal fallout from this event is going to be interesting. I am just opting to use my free speech to not post what has been posted, by now, thousands of times. Also, I don't need Google taking down, my still brand new, blog.

Just to geek out a little about this subject. It was interesting using Digg during the event. I would even go as far to say that Digg suffered the Digg Effect! I posted an article, and it did not appear to be on the site at all and I actually had to go to my history to find it. It was in-fact there. Also, many of the stories I dugg did not appear on my profile until many hours after I dugg them. I sincerely hope that Digg releases some technical information about the event. Another observation was, that even on a fast computer, navigating a page with 900 comments is not very fun (or fast).

Ironically, in the end this might prove helpful for Digg. They are now going to receive wide media coverage because of this digital riot. As long as they are not sued out of existence, I think things will be better in the end for the site as a whole.

I'm just glad to see that now every article on the front page (Digg article) is not about the same topic.


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