Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

first they came for the readers of pro-choice literature

Concerning the whole deleted-books-from-your-Kindle imbroglio, Sam Jordison writes in the Guardian:

This early Kindle book-burning episode also provides a reminder of how closely ebook devices monitor their users' reading. And that provokes quite a few questions. What's to stop advertisers paying to find out about your preferences, for instance? What's to stop churches finding out about people reading pro-choice literature in their area? What's to stop governments finding out about your revolutionary reading preferences?

Now, Jordison later grants that these “sinister manipulations . . . are improbable” — though “not entirely impossible” — and as a great believer in the right to hyperbole I won't give him a hard time about that. I won't even say anything about the palpably ludicrous notion that this is a form of “book-burning.”

But: “churches finding out about people reading pro-choice literature in their area”? Seriously? You think your local churches are scheming to find out what people in the neighborhood are reading? (What are you supposing they wold do if they found out — have you stretched on the rack, perhaps? Or pressed to death with stones?)

And you envision churches asking for Amazon’s help in this endeavor? And Amazon perhaps agreeing to cooperate? — Okay, okay, okay: hyperbole it is. But even if you’re going to speculate about the most outrageous improbabilities imaginable, what you come up with is “churches finding out about people reading pro-choice literature in their area”? Really??


  • Sam Jordison said...
  • Alan Jacobs said...

    And . . . ? What's the logic here? That if one person commits murder then countless other people who share . . . something with that person are likely to commit . . . other (but very different) objectionable acts?

    Certainly gives the imagination room to move. I read about an English woman who murdered her boyfriend, which surely suggests that English people in general are likely to rob banks.

  • If you're going to worry about the government finding out what you're reading on your kindle, shouldn't you also be worried about the government finding out what you're buying on amazon? I mean, in the hypothetical situation in which the government tracks kindle purchases, they're also going to be tracking purchases of physical books. Not to mention library records. I don't own a kindle, I don't plan on owning one any time soon, but this is ridiculous.

  • Our web surfing can already be tracked, so don't know if it's a frightening leap to be tracked on a Kindle.
    * * * *
    This guy doesn't know much about churches from the inside.

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