Monthly Archives: August 2009

In the singularity, the “cure for death” is a series of digital backups …

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Ported from S-is-For-Somewhere.
Down & Out in the Magic Kingdom

Down & Out in the Magic Kingdom

On Wednesday I [legitimately] finished Cory Doctorow’s Down & Out in the Magic Kingdom (available in loads of downloadable formats [free]) – read as an etext on my ipod touch. I’d argued before my uncertainty that the broadly sermonized smell and weight of a book-proper was all it was cracked-up to be, but now I’ve first-hand experience. Honestly, I am not too voracious a reader; I’m easily distracted by my own projects and bright lights, so reading’s always been a thrill of convenience during the inbetweens in my day. So, it took me a couple weeks to swipe through it, but that’s with the ability to adapt my random-reading to my random-taste, sifting between maybe seventeen novels (most from the public domain) I carry around – in my pocket.

Down & Out made me rehash machine functionalism, which I was briefed-on during an Intro. Philosophy course, and the haunting potential that we could digitally replicate human consciousness. Doctorow’s “cure for death” is a series of digital backups coupled with tissue restoration; in the Singularity, death means having lost a day, a week, a year-at-most – but an hour-long data-dump will bring you up to speed. Flashbake —


Etc.: I’m still half-diligently working toward a Glimmer Train deadline, and I’ve almost finished drafting an article for the Bradford Telegraph re: the future of book banning. I’ll throw-it up here in a jiffy. I am writing a reflection paper on As We May Think, and — even though I tend to totally rush through those — I think I may start web-publishing my gradwork as it comes around.


Kristen loved Lisa See’s Peony in Love, so I am going to smother her with Snow Flower & the Secret Fan (which I loved, re: “nu shu” secret phonetic writing developed by women) in an hour or so. — and googling those, I had no idea Lisa See had written so many novels.

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Print, beware! — &c — “pure digital”

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[ported from S is For Somewhere]

— have been participating in fairly entertaining trolling on PubLib (Public Library Listserv) (entitled: “Missing the Boat (or at least Getting Wet)”) regarding the threat of irrelevance to libraries who resist digitization. Trust me, while it sounds dull (lowercase-d) in hindsight, when at an isolated reference desk, defaming sacred cows at an institution of cattle herders relieves the pure and outright Dull (capital-d).

Caveat: — I was taken aside by the director (my thread above in question) and warned about my usage of “ad nauseum” when paired with customer service.

Anyway, I now read in Ars Technica that

Even if print survives the next subscription renewal process, it’s clear that Nordin doesn’t think it can continue indefinitely. ACS’s experience has been that, given the choice, enough of its readers prefer digital that print becomes hard to maintain.

“Once you start printing less than 1,000 of anything, you really have to question your business model,” Nordin said.

The options for making print work better are also unpalatable; “No one wanted to give up color—nobody wanted to dial the clock back—and nobody wanted to add author charges for color.

“Obviously, we’re somewhere on the road to pure digital,” Nordin concluded. Still, even with an insider’s view, he was hesitant to predict the trajectory of the transition. “We really don’t know where [we are on that road], and we’re waiting to be guided by our customers.”

which, I’m guessing, Nordin’s thinking right.

Zamyatin’s tangible threat that 2+2=4 [yikes]

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Originally @ S-is-For-Somewhere

I’m admittedly biased against DRM-locked digitized books and audio, and so when it was announced that Amazon–which, otherwise, I like a ton–axed copies of 1984 from owners’ kindles, I was less at odds with the particular action than what it meant & symbolized regarding threats to ownership and autonomy in the digital culture.

Skim “Why 2024 Will Be like Nineteen Eighty-Four: How Amazon’s remote deletion of e-books from the Kindle paves the way for book-banning’s digital future” published @ Slate.

Amazon deleted books that were already available in print, but in our paperless future—when all books exist as files on servers—courts would have the power to make works vanish completely. Zittrain writes: “Imagine a world in which all copies of once-censored books like CandideThe Call of the Wild, and Ulysseshad been permanently destroyed at the time of the censoring and could not be studied or enjoyed after subsequent decision-makers lifted the ban.” This may sound like an exaggeration; after all, we’ll surely always have file-sharing networks and other online repositories for works that have been decreed illegal. But it seems like small comfort to rely on BitTorrent to save banned art. The anonymous underground movements that have long sustained banned works will be a lot harder to keep up in the world of the Kindle and the iPhone.