Would You Use a Kindle Knowing Amazon Tracks Your Highlighting?

I read a story today about how Amazon, the famous online store and maker of the Kindle e-book reader, has announced it will track what its Kindle readers highlight.

WOW!!!

That’s pretty brazen, if you ask me! Never mind doing it secretly, but announcing it as well! Never mind a nice competitor in Apple not doing any of this stuff (so far as we know).

Your Kindle has an Internet connection with which you can download books and upload payment information and such. It’s a two-way street.

One of the things you can do with your Kindle as you read is to highlight passages. It’s a pretty nice feature you wouldn’t want to do to your books as it’s irreversible in book form, can’t be turned off, and can be annoying later on or to another reader. However, with that two-way street for information exchange, your Kindle sends information of what you highlighted to Amazon, who compiles it and does who knows what else with it. You can bet they’ll use it to help market to you as well. That can be nice, to some extent, if they are right to recommend books you like, but you’re bound to waste some money sooner or later on a bad or bad intent recommendations pending how good their algorithms are at figuring you out.

But what if this information gets into the wrong hands? Or more likely and worse, what if it is subpoenaed by the wrong party?

Oh, let’s say you’re somehow a suspect for a crime. Would anything you might have read and highlighted be used to cast your character to a jury? What if you liked crime novels? They’d have lots of choices. Your love for crime novels now becomes your motive instead of just an innocent interest many people share. And chances are, you might have highlighted some darn good passages others also loved and maybe thought this would be a cool way to commit a crime.

What then?

Or what if someone were able to hack Amazon’s site and get access to their database? Really. It’s not that hard for the people who really want to do it. Wanna take bets the Chinese government is already in there? 🙂

But if all that is too fictitious for you, how do you feel about having your highlighted passages read sent to a retailer?

If you ask me, why are people worried about “big brother” government with this kind of crap going on?

To be fair, though, Amazon isn’t the only one doing this sort of stuff. Just read Super Crunchers by Ian Ayres. Yes, I realize I just linked to the Amazon website, and I’m sure they did as well. Everybody is doing this sort of digital tracking. Credit cards companies are looking at your spending patterns to try and figure out in how many years you might divorce (if you’re married), for example, to appropriately market to you leading up to it, through it and after it. It gets that complex. But it is possible because humans are rather predictable on the whole, which is also the reason why you have stereotypes.

On top of this, Amazon just released a Kindle multiplatform application that will do far more than just track your highlighted passages!

So my question for you on this matter is then:

.

Just some other neat things I learned today below from my favourite week daily read, Social Studies from the Globe and Mail.

Digital output volume
“Humanity’s total digital output currently stands at eight million petabytes – which each represent a million gigabytes – but is expected to pass 1.2 zettabytes this year,” The Daily Telegraph reports. “One zettabyte is equal to one million petabytes … The current size of the world’s digital content is equivalent to all the information that could be stored on 75 billion Apple iPads, or the amount that would be generated by everyone in the world posting messages on the microblogging site Twitter constantly for a century. … As a result, the digital universe is forecast to expand by a factor of 44 over the next decade,” according to an annual survey by technology consultancy IDC.

Email apnea
“Today we’re more wired to snap – especially when using computer keyboards,” Nance Guilmartin writes for Careerbuilder.com. “There’s even a physiological trigger pulling us into e-mail shootouts; it’s called ‘e-mail apnea.’ Thought leader Linda Stone, formerly of Microsoft and Apple computers, coined the phrase after researching a phenomenon she observed while people were under the influence of computing. The urge to quickly react (without considering what you or they may have misunderstood) can affect you – whether you are the person sending the initial e-mail or the one who receives it. Stone noticed we hold our breath while cranking out e-mails and doctors confirmed her suspicions. When we hold our breath, the brain is momentarily oxygen-deprived and hits the flight or fight response, fuelling a more emotional reaction to the words shooting out of our fingers.”

Libraries Plus
“Recently, I attended the opening of the freshly refurbished Harlesden Library,” Rose Rouse writes for The Guardian. “Emerging from its swaddle of scaffolding, this Edwardian building in northwest London had mysteriously acquired a four-letter suffix. Harslesden Library is now Harlesden Library Plus,” The library offers more services but seems to have fewer books. The fad of adding “plus” has spread to other libraries, government initiatives and even everyday speech – the Labour manifesto is described by its author as Blair Plus. “It goes back to added value,” says former management consultant and philosopher Robert Rowland Smith, “or at least the illusion of giving some. It’s like a shop cutting up chicken and selling it for more, even though there is actually no more chicken.”

I’m surprised this novel column on May the 4th didn’t mention anything about Star Wars Day. May the 4th be with you! Get it? 🙂

Share/Bookmark

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 6.8

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.