Author Archive | moezilla

Will Librarians Revolt Over Amazon’s Kindle Lending Program?

Amazon Kindle FamilyA California librarian is urging librarians to complain to Amazon over issues with privacy and advertising in Amazon’s new Kindle ebook lending program for libraries. “In our greedy attempt to get content into our users’ hands, we have failed to uphold the highest principle of our profession, which is intellectual freedom,” she argues in a 10-minute video. (Read the transcript here):

Kindle has allowed Amazon to harvest all of this borrowing data, so it’s an instant violation of all of our privacy policies … [I]f they’re using a Kindle, Amazon’s keeping friggin’ everything. And we haven’t told people that, and we need to tell people that.

She argues Amazon’s retention of your reading history may violate, for example, California’s Reader Privacy Act, and she also complains that the check-out and renewal process include unacceptable promotional content about Amazon’s for-sale ebooks. Though she owns a Kindle and loves ebooks, she’s urging librarians to speak up.… Read the rest

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Selling Wikipedia Pages As Kindle eBooks

WikiFocus BooksThis article identifies a supposed ebook “author” whose 887 different ebooks were all apparently cut-and-pasted directly from Wikipedia entries!

The “WikiFocus” series targets obscure niches with few competing ebooks, like Hello Kitty, Aquaman, or the comic strip Archie.

“Of the 887 ebooks, all but 10 earned terrible reviews, averaging one star or less,” this article notes, “or received no reviews at all.”

A typical review? “This ‘book’ is just a word for word copy of the Wikipedia page.”

(And a least one other “author” has attempt the same trick, trying to pass off a Wikipedia page about Charlie Sheen as an $18.95 biography!)

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Will Bookstores Boycott Amazon-Published Books?

AmazonEncoreAmazon has begun signing their own authors and then publishing the books themselves, leaving booksellers “wary” as Amazon “tries to have it all,” according to a Boston newspaper. The co-owner of an independent bookstore near Cambridge considered boycotting Amazon’s new line of books, complaining “They are a huge competitor, and they don’t collect sales tax, giving them an unfair advantage.”

A children’s bookstore noted that “the pie is getting cut into fewer pieces. I’d be nervous if I were an adult book publisher.” Borders bookstore has already declared bankruptcy, leaving The Daily Show to joke that bookstores should simply become “digital downloading” stations — or a “living history” museum where future generations can learn what “a magazine rack” was.”

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Are These Evolution’s Future Sluts?

Toronto Slutwalk

SlutWalk protest in Toronto, 3 April 2011. Photo: Anton Bielousov (CC).

Violet Blue explains why the new SlutWalk protests are “a significant tipping point in cultural evolution” — and she’s serious. “Yes: I think scantily clad girls marching in the streets around the world are agents of change for our species.”

It started in April when a Toronto cop said that to stay safe from rape, women “should avoid dressing like sluts”. Soon “my clothes are not my consent” protests erupted, and the event “had an international identity within a few months,” representing “a huge reclamation and restatement about boundaries and women’s bodies.”

Now sex workers, young exhibitionists, high-heel feminists and random pissed-off women are marching “for the right to dress as they like while having their boundaries respected,” and Violet calls them the true punk rockers — the disruptors. “They’re the ones with the brass ovaries enough to dress like sluts and tell the world to STFU about what they should, or shouldn’t do, with their sexiness.”

“Maybe that’s why its critics are panicking and handwringing as if Invaders From Mars have come out of a time machine from the future in heels and hose, reminding everyone that their face is up here!”

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Can AI-Powered Games Create Super-Intelligent Humans?

EinsteinA technology CEO sees game artificial intelligence as the key to a revolution in education, predicting a synergy where games create smarter humans who then create smarter games.

Citing lessons drawn from Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age, Alex Peake, founder of Primer Labs, sees the possibility of a self-fueling feedback loop which creates “a Moore’s law for artificial intelligence,” with accelerating returns ultimately generating the best possible education outcomes.

“What the computer taught me was that there was real muggle magic …” writes Peake. And he reaches a startling conclusion.

“Once we begin relying on AI mentors for our children and we get those mentors increasing in sophistication at an exponential rate, we’re dipping our toe into symbiosis between humans and the AI that shape them.

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Should We Say “Maybe” to Drugs in Afghanistan?

Afghan PoppiesThere’s a global morphine shortage in the west (while the Taliban is financing terrorism through black-market opium). So for over a year, a mainstream journalist for both Information Week and Library Journal has been contacting Congressmen about the “Sustainable Opportunities for Rural Afghans Act.” (“Whereas granting rural Afghan farming families an economic ally other than the Taliban is good for the national security of the United States…”)

Basically, the act would allow American pharmaceutical companies to buy opium from the farmers in Afghanistan — and even offer aid and bonuses to the farmers to deter their cooperation with the Taliban (before eventually transitioning them to other crops). “Action has been nil and talk has been quiet,” the reporter writes, even though it could help efforts to “defeat, disrupt, and dismantle” al Qaeda and its allies.

“As we press our advantage after the death of bin Laden, it seems reasonable to use every available tool toward our stated goal.”

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Resurrecting Reznor’s Lost Art-Band Discovery, ‘Mondo Vanilli’

Mondo VanilliFinally the truth can be told — about how the editor of Mondo 2000 magazine was offered a six-album deal with Trent Reznor’s label for a performance art/virtual reality band called “Mondo Vanilli” in 1993. (“Would I be the first mildly overweight, weird-looking lead singer to launch into rock stardom at 41 years old?”)

Mondo editor R. U. Sirius remembers fondly that Reznor “was still excited about us after the psilocybin wore off,” recalls the poop-and-diapers piece of performance art that disgusted the hipsters in San Francisco, and shares the legendary sad-eyed “Keane painting” mocking Reznor that may have ultimately spoiled the deal…

But their one “lost album” from 1993 is finally available online.

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The Most Well-Read U.S. Cities (According to just crunched their sales data for 2011, and calculated the 20 Most Well-Read Cities in America. (Click here to see all 20 cities on a map.)

The #1 city on Amazon’s list (and the top purchaser of non-fiction titles) is Cambridge, Massachusetts, while four of the top five cities are college towns. This suggests students may be shopping online for cheaper text books – another bad sign for the future of the bookstore.

But the #2 city was Alexandria, Virginia, one of three cities on the list within 10 miles of Washington D.C. — which surprisingly, was also reported by Amazon as the city which purchased the most children’s picture book.

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Last Typewriter Factory in the World Closes

The last company manufacturing manual typewriters has finally shut its doors!

It was based in Mumbai, India, and in the 1990s “the company was selling 50,000 models each year,” reports this technology site, but “That had dropped to around 10,000 by the mid-2000s, and last year the company sold less than 1,000 typewriters. According to the company’s general manager Milind Dukle the only people now buying manual typewriters are ‘the defense agencies, courts and government offices.'”

“With manual typewriters no longer being produced, I think it’s fair to say we’re now a world where computers rule supreme.”

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YouTube Punishes Copyright Offenders With Animated Pirate Cat

Thursday YouTube announced a new program which requires copyright offenders to watch an animated cartoon starring a pirate cat. "In an adjustment to it’s three-strikes-and-your-banned-for life policy, the site is now requiring alleged offenders to watch a four minute 're-education' movie featuring an animated cat, then complete a four-question multiple choice exam," YouTube explained on their site. "Only then can the user upload clips again..."


The cartoon -- entitled "Happy Tree Friends" -- features singing animals who demonstrate the difference between uploading an infringing video and creating original content. ("YouTube has decided the solution is to patronize those users," jokes one technology blog.) "Because copyright law can be complicated, education is critical to ensure that our users understand the rules and continue to play by them," YouTube said in Thursday's announcement. And some users who complete the YouTube "Copyright School" can also have copyright strikes removed from their account.
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