Kara Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

3 Articles from April 2009

  1. What We Learned from #amazonfail

    I quite enjoyed on Easter weekend watching the instantaneous outrage across the Internet, particularly #amazonfail on Twitter, as it became apparent that Amazon had removed sales rankings from books with "adult" content. The outrage stems more from the fact that the application of the "adult" label seems skewed toward books with homosexual content; the heterosexual books are safe. In the ensuing light-speed confusion: Mark R. Probst shared his limited interaction with an Amazon rep, in which the rep revealed the "adult content" policy; the LA Times book blog covers it, then covers it again when sources claim that Amazon has blamed a "glitch"; and some posited it was the result of gaming the system.

    Take the time to read the above articles before reading on.

    What Definitely Happened

    In lieu of any definitive statement from Amazon regarding this debacle, it would be irresponsible to say, "This is what happened." At best, we have theories. But all theories start with facts. Here are the facts, what we know did happen, even if we don't know why it happened.

    Amazon Has a Safe-Search Policy

    As evidenced by Mark Probst's post, a representative for Amazon has confirmed that…

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  2. Newspapers dubbed Internet parasite by Me

    According to Robert Thomson, Google is an "internet parasite". In Thomson's view, Google's aggregation of content promotes a "'mistaken perception' that content should be free" and decreases traditional brand loyalty.

    The nature of content, content creation, and how much this information is worth are at the heart of every major debate regarding the economics of the Internet. These issues are responsible for our DRM woes with regards to software and digital music, and they drive the collapse of so-called "traditional media", such as newspapers, which aren't adapting quickly enough to the new playing field.

    This is the most amusing quotation:

    Google encourages promiscuity -- and shamelessly so -- and therefore a significant proportion of their users don't necessarily associate that content with the creator.

    Oh no! Google's promoting competition among content providers! How dare they?! I mean, it's not as if the so-called "free market" is based on competition. Shame on Google for corrupting those free market values!

    I would go so far as to argue that the whole point of the Internet is aggregation of content. This is why the Internet revolution is so profoundly different from any previous information revolution, including that of the printing press. The…

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  3. Are You Sure This is Legal?

    Books I bought

    Today I went to renew my iRewards membership at Chapters. I took with me my gift cards from Christmas, because I know that any time I enter Chapters, I can't leave without buying at least one book.

    I bought twelve.

    As usual when leaving Chapters, I experienced this giddy sensation as if I had committed some sort of crime and gotten away with it--how could they let me leave with so much knowledge?! Sure, I paid them for it, but it still seems like a crime. Buying books leaves me exhilarated--I don't know why people do drugs when they can just get high off reading. At least, I find reading that enjoyable; I suppose other people don't.

    The photo above includes books I acquired prior to today as well, including some older editions of Sense and Sensibility and Middlemarch, which I got for free. Highlights from today's trip include Remix, by Lawrence Lessig, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith, and Before the Dawn, by Nicolas Wade.

    I'm looking forward to reading all of these, as well as the nine books I borrowed from the library today. This is how I intend…

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