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:

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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? 🙂

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Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 6.8

Why Government Should Leave Digital Music Copyright Alone

Nine Inch Nails’ Ghost I-IV was the best selling MP3 album on Amazon.com in 2008 despite legally being available for free download under Creative Commons licence. Seems to me the music market is working just fine that a good product sells well. Why, then, government should do something about digital music copyright and downloading?

Nine Inch Nails' Ghost I-IV album cover

Nine Inch Nails' Ghost I-IV album cover

I’m seriously asking you for an answer to that question, not setting myself up to give you an answer. I’m a government regulatory analyst, and I know a little about regulations. Maybe just a little, but at least a little. However, I’ll speak for myself here and not government.

One of my main philosophies about regulations and government involvement is not to get involved when we don’t have to get involved. Seeing NIN’s success above, I am tempted to tell anybody complaining about lost revenue from free downloading to try a new business model of giving it away while also making it available for sale. After further analysis, I will!

Amazon is the second biggest seller of MP3s next to iTunes, though selling only 10-20% of all MP3s (US sales only for fair comparison), pending which source you believe. However, it is a big enough sampling to make the result valid. Imagine how much you’d trust a poll of 10% of all Canadians or Americans instead of one of these 1,100 people polls that’s within 2.5% 19 times out of 20.

Amazon does differ from iTunes with respect to what is called Digital Rights Management (DRM). An MP3 you buy from Amazon will play on anything you have whereas iTunes tracks only play on select Apple products. Amazon also doesn’t sell any music with DRM due to the record labels’ greed so a lot of music NIN might have competed against wasn’t available for purchase on Amazon. However, there was plenty of competition. Viva la Vida by Coldplay, top selling album on iTunes, was available on Amazon… at #2. So throw out that argument. Despite Amazon’s relatively small marketshare, the sampling is accurate, as claimed.

Coldplay

Coldplay

Ghost I-IV was not released on iTunes in case you wanted the reverse comparison. I can see the logic why iTunes would not take it given it was available for free download, but I’m not sure if it was NIN who decided not to release it there. Still, revenue lost for iTunes and they should pay attention if it were they who did not take it.

Reviews, particularly customer reviews since it is they who buy the albums, can really answer the product quality question with regards to sales. Rolling Stone reviews for Ghost I-IV was at 3.5 stars of five, just like reviews for Viva la Vida. Interestingly enough, customer reviews on the same site was 4.5 stars for Ghost I-IV and 4.0 stars for Viva la Vida. On Amazon, given they distribution of ratings, if you do the math, you’ll see Ghost I-IV edged out Viva la Vida 4.11 to 4.03 (as of Jan 28 evening). Now you know why Ghost I-IV edged out Viva la Vida.

There is the moral argument to do what is right to protect intellectual property. Some musicians are upset people swap their songs and give them away due to lack of copyright laws deterring the public from doing so. Considering the small portion of musicians in this situation among the whole general public, I’d bet anything the social joys the general public derives from being able to swap digital music tracks outweigh the social pains incurred by the musicians. Besides, people are doing what’s right in the NIN case in buying it, still, and success was obtained with a good product.

Next is the astounding fact that NIN’s main audience is the young Net generation who are Net saavy and who would no doubt know how and where to download the free album. That’s the free album they hyped to be available for free, not kept quiet about. This wasn’t a case where old people dominating the demographics and scaring us about health care’s economic burden in the next decade were buying cause they didn’t know how to download torrent discographies.

Honestly, I don’t know what to make of NIN’s success. Is this a case of Freakonomics where economics were just wacky? Probably not. How’s about Predictably Irrational hidden forces that shape our decisions? Maybe, but I’m more optimistic than that. Free usually makes us do other things rather than pay for the free stuff. However, this is a perfect case where behavioral economics trumps economics that’s for logical Vulcans who would never do such a thing as pay for free stuff. Behavioral economics wouldn’t have to explain this, for one thing, just use it as an exact model. How’s about Wikinomics, the economics of free? Well, it’s not mass collaboration, but it is the economics of free. Emotional Intelligence? Very possibly. There is an innate goodness natural to all of us. I like to believe that even if people weren’t breaking the law to get NIN’s album for free, they knew the right thing to do was to buy it and many did. Compound that with the digital generation main audience that has such a sense of entitlement to everything, want everything for free and demand instant gratification, I must say they have regained some level of respect from me.

But does it matter what is the reason behind NIN’s success? Maybe, but I’m willing to bet it’s nothing so unique it won’t work with other such attempts by other music artists. All I know is I have one darn good example that trumps a lot of things. I only wish I had more such examples of a well-known band putting out a quality product that could compete with most others and would likely show similarly successful outcomes, though I don’t mean #1. NIN’s #1 result might have been a small anomaly to be ranked so high, but I don’t doubt good success can be had by other quality albums popular with people. That is, I think this success can be replicated by similar business models done by other good bands with good products. But having NIN at #1 shows the model can work at the extremes, not just in the middle. That’s all I need to know to say that the Canadian federal government should burn its Bill C-61 copyright law reform efforts for winter heat.

It’s also enough for me to tell anybody wanting such copyrights to get with the times, get a new business model or, if they annoy me enough, to get a better product!

If you don’t agree, please, do tell me why in the Comments section below. Thank you.

p.s. As self-disclosure for factors potentially influencing my point of view, I have a small interest in songwriting and recording. It is not my main source of income and I never want it to be. However, I will pledge right here that if I ever release any music recording, it will either have Creative Commons free download to it only, or any money made from it will go to charity in its entirety… and you can quote me on that!

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 8.6

Sailor Moon Facebook Friends Tagging Meme and Wallpaper

Below are eight Facebook friends tagging meme picture of Sailor Moon characters. Is that enough for you Sailor Moon fans? 🙂

It starts with the basic, then gets into the two Good Senshi sets, then triple villains set because there were so many! In fact, if you think you know your Sailor Moon well, why don’t you test yourself to see if you can name all the characters without looking too much at the answers provided!

Credits to Simsim2212 on Deviant Art for some of the artwork and information. I had to do a fair bit of cutting, colourizing and other touch-ups on the artwork myself, though, to turn it into what you see here. As for the information, I hope Simsim2212 got it right, and that I transposed it correctly, because aside from the basic characters I researched, I know nothing of Sailor Moon other than that it is popular!

At the end is a wallpaper for a 1280 x 960 pixel or 1024 x 768 pixel monitor. Again, I did some Photoshop magic to make it the quality it is at.

If you would like to use any of the pictures below, please:

  • Click on the picture you want below to get it at full size.
  • Right click on that picture and save to your computer.
  • Upload it to your Facebook profile (the wallpaper you’ll have to get someone to help you if you don’t know how to set it as your background).
  • Tag your friends.

Please click here for a complete list of over 100 Facebook picture tagging memes on this site with which you can use for fun with your friends.

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Below are a list of characters in some of these memes. Since I have put the memes into the gallery thumbnails, so they’d load faster for viewers just having a look, the order has been mixed up and I don’t know which set go with which meme any more. But I’m sure the Sailor Moon fans who use these memes will, so I’ll leave it up to them. 🙂

Row 1
Sailor Mercury – Inner Senshi, Sailor Mars – Inner Senshi, Sailor Jupiter – Inner Senshi, Sailor Venus – Inner Senshi, Luna – Moon Guardian

Row 2
Sailor Pluto – Outer Senshi, Sailor Uranus – Outer Senshi, Sailor Neptune – Outer Senshi, Sailor Saturn – Outer Senshi, Artemis – Moon Guardian

Row 3
Sailor Kakkyou – Starlight Senshi, Sailor Star Fighter – Starlight Senshi, Sailor Star Healer – Starlight Senshi, Sailor Star Maker – Starlight Senshi, Diana – Moon Guardian

Row 1
Sailor Pallas – Asteroid Senshi, Sailor Vesta – Asteroid Senshi, Sailor Juno – Asteroid Senshi. Sailor Cere – Asteroid Senshi, Phobos – Mars Guardian

Row 2
Jadeite – Earth Shitennou, Nephrite – Earth Shitennou, Zoisite – Earth Shitennou, Kunzite – Earth Shitennou, Deimos – Mars Guardian

Row 3
Tuxedo Kamen – Master of Shitennou, Sailor Moon – Master of Inner and Outer Senshi, Sailor Chibichibi – Sailor Cosmos, Sailor Chibiusa – Master of Asteroid Senshi, Helios – Sun Guardian

Column 1 (left side, from top to bottom)
Queen Beryl – Dark Kingdom, Jadeite (Shitennou) – Dark Kingdom, Nephrite (Shitennou) – Dark Kingdom

Column 2
Rubeus – Black Moon Clan, Petz (Ayakashi Sisters) – Black Moon Clan, Calaveras (Ayakashi Sisters) – Black Moon Clan

Column 3
Esmeraude – Black Moon Clan, Achiral (Boule Brothers) – Black Moon Clan, Chiral (Boule Brothers) – Black Moon Clan

Column 4
Tellu (Witches 5) – Death Buster, Mimete (Witches 5) – Death Buster, Eudial (Witches 5) – Death Buster

Column 5
Viluy (Witches 5) – Death Buster, Cyprine (Witches 5) – Death Buster, Ptilol (Witches 5) – Death Buster

Column 1 (left side, from top to bottom)
Zoisite (Shitennou) – Dark Kingdom, Kunzite (Shitennou) – Dark Kingdom, Al – Alien

Column 2
Berthier (Ayakashi Sisters) – Black Moon Clan, Cooan (Ayakashi Sisters) – Black Moon Clan, An – Alien

Column 3
Black Lady – Black Moon Clan, Saphir – Black Moon Clan, Demand – Black Moon Clan

Column 4
Tomoe – Death Buster, Kaolinite – Death Buster, Wiseman – Black Moon Clan

Column 5
Mistress 9 – Death Buster, Zirconia – Death Moon Circus, Tiger’s Eye (Amazon Trio) – Death Moon Circus

Column 1 (left side, from top to bottom)
Cere Cere (Amazon Quartet) – Death Moon Circus, Hawk’s Eye (Amazon Trio) – Death Moon Circus, Fish’s Eye (Amazon Trio) – Death Moon Circus

Column 2
Sailor Tin Nyanko – Sailor Animates, Sailor Aluminum Seiren – Sailor Animates, Sailor Lead Crow – Sailor Animates

Column 3
Sailor Phi – Sailor Animates, Sailor Chi – Sailor Animates, Sailor Heavy Metal Papillon – Sailor Animates

Column 4
Sailor Chaos – THE EVIL!!!, Sailor Lethe – Sailor Animates, Sailor Mnemosyne – Sailor Animates

Column 5
Queen Nehellenia – Death Moon Circus, Sailor Galaxia – Sailor Animates, Sailor Iron Mouse – Sailor Animates

Column 6
Ves Ves (Amazon Quartet) – Death Moon Circus, Jun Jun (Amazon Quartet) – Death Moon Circus, Para Para (Amazon Quartet) – Death Moon Circus