Friday, July 24, 2009
Amazon.com is Watching You
Location: Richmond Island's House of Usher Build
As I make prims fit and have fun with Photoshop designing textures, all so we can beta-test this simulation next semester, something that would have given Poe even more nightmares has happened.
Anyone following tech news knows how Amazon.com reached into Kindle owners' machines without their knowledge to remove copies of Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm. How appropriate and how unfortunately ham-fisted for a company that should know better.
Printed books have this power: ownership. It will be a long time before I buy an e-reader of any sort. Although a company spokesman noted that the company will not do this again, Amazon needs to provide a legally binding contract to Kindle owners stating that it will never do this again.
The power of a major corporation to erase works of literature in an increasingly paperless world is terrifying. There's not much of a leap from that to a totalitarian state erasing our books.
Make mine paper: I'll be reading Mervin Peake's Gormennghast tonight, in a thick edition that includes all three of the Gormennghast novels. And Barnes and Noble cannot come and seize it, nor can Uncle Sam, without a major domestic incident and quite likely, violence. Books are worth dying for.
As for Poe? I had planned to offer my students the option of downloading "The Fall of the House of Usher," in a free Kindle edition, instead of buying the Penguin Classic edition. Now they'll have to buy the paperback and I'll use it as a lesson about how fragile knowledge can be, when others control it.