Technology is becoming an increasingly useful and relied-upon tool in combat and other areas of defense, but keeping our gadgets out of the hands of our enemies is also a challenge. Things can get dropped, lost, or stolen, and if that happens DARPA wants to keep our technology from falling into the wrong hands -- by having it self-destruct. This post will self-destruct in five seconds. Just kidding, it won't. At least not until DARPA gives us the technology to do so.
Let's pretend we live in a world where digital objects are forced to reflect the utility of a real-world analogue. For instance, we could say that this blog is a lot like a newspaper, and require that it be sold at news stands, get ink on your fingers, would require the destruction of an entire forest, and only be durable to last a few days. "This world is ludicrous!" I hear you cry. But this is the world in which book publisher HarperCollins wants us to live.
The Pioneer Library System of Oklahoma has posted an open letter to their blog in which they reveal that the eBooks that HarperCollins makes available to the library for its (groundbreaking, and totally amazing sounding) digital loan program will self-destruct after 26 checkouts.