Digg, and sixteen hexadecimal digits.

When I got home last night I checked digg, just to see if there was anything interesting. If you’re a digg follower, you already know what’s going on.

If you don’t follow digg, digg is “a community-based popularity website with an emphasis on technology and science articles, recently expanding to a broader range of categories such as politics and entertainment. It combines social bookmarking, blogging, and syndication with a form of non-hierarchical, democratic editorial control.” (Wikipedia)

Basically, anything interesting in tech, software, and some science, shows up on digg. Like any firehose, you have to drink carefully.

The HD DVD “master key” has been discovered, and was posted several times over the last week on the web. Digg users found and “dugg” those stories. The people who run the HD DVD copy protection scheme sent digg (among others) DMCA takedown notices. Until last night, digg was complying. Digg users rebelled, and at one point last night it seemed like every story on digg was about sixteen hexadecimal digits.

At 9:00 last night, the guys who run digg gave up. So those 16 hexadecimal digits are now running free on digg, and the result is that lots of geeks have the digits, and it seems unlikely that the mushroom cloud will fit back in the bomb case.

I don’t know what’s more interesting, the digg effect on digg itself, the cluelessness of the copy protection scheme, the idea that DMCA could protect some numbers, or the social implications of organized anarchy on the Internet. In some ways, it’s like the old days of the Internet, before Al Gore invented it.

One thing is clear – security through obscurity, relying on a secret code that anybody knows – will not work. We’ve relied on that for years, and in my view we need to stop.


Update:  This has hit the mainstream media – BBC article.

Explore posts in the same categories: Process Change, Software

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