'"He only needs the One; for he made that Ring himself, it is his, and he let a great part of his own former power pass into it, so that he could rule all the others. If he recovers it, then he will command them all again, wherever they may be [...]'"
I have had what is either a brilliant idea or a mental breakdown. The latter is more likely as I had the idea while I was reading Bagenders, my favorite Lord of the Rings parody fanfic. Bagenders is set in modern times, the Fellowship is immortal, and Frodo has found that modern psychiatric treatment has little effect on post-Ringbearer syndrome. That started a train of thought that I will not go into, but it derailed here:
The effect of the Ring on its wearer has been most often compared to addiction. For some reason I've never quite liked that. What occurred to me was that the Ring was more like a virus. Specifically, more like a computer virus. Consider the original purpose of the Ring: Sauron made it of his own power to carry out a dedicated set of tasks. The Ring does these tasks constantly and efficiently and rigidly, and according to a specific set of instructions. In other words, like a computer. Let me say at this point that I'm being analogous, and that I find this analogy very useful to conceptualize how the Ring operates.
Consider the Ring a virtual avatar of Sauron. When you wear the Ring, it attempts to interface with you and start overwriting your mind to be like his. The more you access (wear) it and the more of its powers you use, the more you become like Sauron. This makes complete sense of the refusal of the Wise to take it. Persons like Galadriel and Gandalf are far more compatible with the Ring and it would be able to make them far more like Sauron than it would a hobbit. Bilbo, though he had it for years, took little harm from it because he only used the simplest function of the Ring (to turn invisible, or actually, become wraith-like. His mindset was highly incompatible with the Ring's operational parameters. Additionally, the Ring was not fully powered as Sauron believed it was lost beyond recall. When he learned of its reappearance, he called it to him awakening its true purpose. Gollum, though also a hobbit, began his possession of the Ring with an act of murder, which made his mind vulnerable to being overwritten (system storage was corrupted). Gollum and his friend found it in the river, and no doubt the Ring was far more active in trying to remove itself from this situation (marketing plan for malicious software!)
What charms me most about this analogy is how it helps explain the character of Frodo. Frodo had to take the Ring knowing what it was. There was no firewall between his mind and the Ring's interface. The Ring began to change him, in small and limited ways, to be like Sauron. As this progressed, Frodo began to be unable to give up the Ring because Sauron would never give up part of his very being. Sam, like Bilbo, only accesses the Ring's lowest function, and thus escapes corruption. All during the Lord of the Rings, Sauron is continually calling the Ring to him. With the operating manual for the Ring, he is able to override local control of the software. As Sam and Frodo neared Sauron, Sauron's ability to dominate the operation of the Ring became more powerful. Finally, at the motherboard location of the Cracks of Doom, Sauron's commands take over Frodo's system and at that point he is carrying out Sauron's wishes. To clarify: Sauron does not wish Frodo to take control of the Ring; Sauron wants to take control of it. So when Frodo becomes as Sauron, his first action is to claim the Ring. Frodo has become a badly working version of Sauron, like running Windows 2000 on an obsolete model PC. And of course, in the end, Frodo can never restore the damaged sectors. He is no longer compatible with the Shire, and must upgrade to the West.
As a side note, one can look at the others Rings of Power. Only the Rings of the Elves had some protection from Sauron. He does not have to wear the One Ring to have influence over the wearers of the other Rings, because they came with the Sauron virus preinstalled. The Three have clean operating systems. Sauron needs the master program in the One to take control of the Three. He knows where their back doors are.
There. I got that off my chest, and now its in your chest like an Alien egg. :)
I feel much better now.
PS You realize, Sauron was ltrying to launch denial of good service attacks from Frodo's machine. He almost became a server of evil.
What a geek moment.