Sunday, August 9, 2009

digital delights & digital perils

In a fascinating synchronicity, due to copyright concerns, Amazon surreptitiously removed Orwell's novel 1984 from the Kindle "e-books" they had already sold to customers according to "Amazon Removes Books from Kindle" on NPR. This certainly puts a dent in the enthusiastic PR about the future of the book. As the NPR story notes, this couldn't happen to a real book. Even when books are burned there are still copies that have escaped, but when a digital text is removed by the authority (corporate or government) all copies are gone for good. As wonderul and empowering as our new digital tools are, we would be mistaken to allow our enthusiasm (intoxication?) to overpower our judgement and overlook the value and utility of elder technologies. Even in the age of Kindle, the traditional paper book still retains many superiorites. Paper books are harder to track and monitor than digital electronic devices. Keystrokes are easier to record than a private handwritten journal. But of course, this is all just paranoid fluff. Everyone knows that allowing ourselves to be monitored is not only benign, it's fun and profitable!

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