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? 🙂

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Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 6.8

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Video of Baby Surviving After Falling Under Train in Melbourne, Australia

Baby whose pram fell into train tracks of an oncoming train as Mother runs to try and rescue

Baby whose pram fell into train tracks of an oncoming train as Mother runs to try and rescue

If this were in a movie, you’d never believe it and trash the script. But you know, life is far stranger than fiction, and this is just one of many proof of that.

It’s an absolute miracle what happened here. A Mother on a windy train platform in Melbourne, Australia, turns away for a split second and the carriage (pram) with her six month baby rolls off into the tracks, landing smack in the middle of the track. Almost as if timed, a train comes into the station just as she tries to go for her baby, almost clipping the Mother’s head as security footage show above.

Yet, somehow, the baby survived with just just a cut to the forehead. My guess would be it was due to a vertical gap between the track and the train, in the middle of the track, but only there. On January 3 2007, Cameron Hollopeter fell into the subway tracks in Washington DC was covered by Wesley Autrey, a 50 year old construction worker, who had jumped in to save him (NY Times). Lying on top of the victim who fell in, with his back about a foot above the ground, Wesley only had his blue cap smudged with grease, if that gives an indication of the size of the space I’m talking about. If the baby who fell in today had landed much to the left or right of the track where he did land, this would have been a video with a real gruesome ending.

The pram, obviously much bigger in size than the baby, wasn’t nearly as lucky. Its pieces were scattered all over the tracks the length the train took to stop.

Mother and child were both taken to hospital and released soon after being admitted, according to CNN’s video. One question I have about all this, though. They just started an awareness campaign about the dangers of prams on the platform. Who would design such a surface to have either zero grade, or even a grade into the tracks so that anything not constrained could fall into it? It was windy, sure, but windy enough to move that pram with a baby in it so quickly into the tracks? Surely the platform grade could have offered a little more resistance with a gentle grade upward?

Amazing story, real drama… and glad to see it’s one with a good ending.

Now, let’s go and witch hunt Balloon Dad in Colorado for that hoax!

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"Let's Get Balloon Dad!!!"

"Let's get Balloon Dad!!!"

Generation One (G1) Autobot Cartoon Avatars, Buddy Icons and Profile Pics for Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Bebo and Other Applications

The Generation One Autobot icons below appeared in the cartoon series from 1984 to 1986. Their names have a double digit after them indicate the year of their debut. History and most of the artwork were courtesy of Adam Botch the Crab’s Transformers Box Art Archive. More information on each Autobot can be found at the archive or Wikipedia. In the latter, there a pretty good sized entry for most of the Transformers! It’s all very fascinating if you love the franchise, though rather violent with the comic book sagas where Transformers have their heads blown off, literally!

I have added a bit more punch to most of the artwork scans (i.e. a tad more contrast and saturation). I have also converted them to 256 pixel square pictures, with the graphic as large as possible, for use as avatars, buddy icons and profile pictures. You can use these pretty much for any application, including blogging avatars, since most don’t need a graphic as large as 256 pixels. Facebook and MySpace tend to max that out.

To get an icon:

  • Click on the thumbnail you want to get it at full size
    (there is NO grey trim on the downloadable picture).
  • Right click on that picture and save to your computer.
  • Upload it to your Facebook or other profiles.
  • Click the Back button on your browser to come back to here or click the thumbnails below the picture to move on to the next picture.
  • Come back another day whenever you feel like using a new one, or download them all now!
  • Please click here for a complete list of avatars, buddy icons and themed Facebook profile pictures on this site (see blue header near bottom of destination page).

Please click here to see all the Transformers products (Generation One and Movie) on this site, which include:

  • Avatars, buddy icons and Facebook profile pictures
  • Collectible Trading Cards (print like regular 6″ x 4″ photo)
  • Facebook tagging pictures
  • Posters (18″ x 24″)
  • Wallpapers of many sizes

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Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 8.1