Cory Doctrow posts a delicious rant against Wired’s review policy here. Unfortunately, he fails to stress what I think is the a point. Wired is writing reviews. Those reviews are supposed to be impartial. Whatever you may think about DRM, it is clearly an important mis-feature of a product which you may buy. Informed reviewers, such as those at Wired(?) ought to talk about it in every review they write. That they don’t, that they follow Chris Anderson’s “but nothing I care about that I can’t work around in one way or another” directive, convinces me to look elsewhere for reviews. To be fair, Chris also says “[Wired] Test and the rest of our reviews do take points off for intrusive DRM when we encounter it.” However, as Cory points out, DRM can be explicitly designed so that a reviewer does not encounter it. It can be a six or twelve month time bomb in a product. A reviewer ought to be investigating such things.
Cory’s rant closes:
WARNING: THIS DEVICE’S FEATURES ARE SUBJECT TO REVOCATION WITHOUT NOTICE, ACCORDING TO TERMS SET OUT IN SECRET NEGOTIATIONS. YOUR INVESTMENT IS CONTINGENT ON THE GOODWILL OF THE WORLD’S MOST PARANOID, TECHNOPHOBIC ENTERTAINMENT EXECS. THIS DEVICE AND DEVICES LIKE IT ARE TYPICALLY USED TO CHARGE YOU FOR THINGS YOU USED TO GET FOR FREE — BE SURE TO FACTOR IN THE PRICE OF BUYING ALL YOUR MEDIA OVER AND OVER AGAIN. AT NO TIME IN HISTORY HAS ANY ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY GOTTEN A SWEET DEAL LIKE THIS FROM THE ELECTRONICS PEOPLE, BUT THIS TIME THEY’RE GETTING A TOTAL WALK. HERE, PUT THIS IN YOUR MOUTH, IT’LL MUFFLE YOUR WHIMPERS.
PS: Does that “nothing I care about” line remind anyone else of a Potter Stewart-like failure to provide a crisp test?
[Update: Cory posts again, responding to the claim that the market will sort it out without reviewers mentioning DRM.]