This morning I spread out my morning paper on the breakfast table and started reading an interesting story on page C6:
Halifax Chronicle-Herald (6/26 ’12): “Analyst urges new use for wood fibre: E-readers, tablets cutting into profits of paper products”
A shift in consumer preferences toward electronic information sources has gone beyond print media and is now taking its toll on demand for paper to produce books, reported the board.
OK, it’s probably got around pretty broadly that we subscribe to the C-H, but unless the Slovenian Secret Service went to a lot of trouble to bug the lava lamp there’s no way anyone could have known that I read that particular story, until I went online …
… and exposed myself to the new multi-$billion cottage industry of robo-spying and privacy stripping.
Now computers are bad enough and the content providers are just laughing at those “do not track” browser settings, but at least in theory you could use some sort of Linux / open source solution that would give you some control over the cookie monster, but not an e-reader …
… which might better be called a WKWYR (pronounced “wickwire” and means: We Know What You’re Reading). Now just as a simple consequence of making the digital rights management (DRM) work, the e-reader vendors are going to have detailed, potentially and probably actual page-by-page timestamped, data on their customers’ consumption of texts. The big boys will have to sell this data because it’s so much money on the table, and yes it will be exquisitely anonymized, but you can depend on the swarm of smart-up companies coming in their wake breaking this anonymization simply because they can sell the personalized stuff for a whole lot more.
So only an idiot is going to go through The Grapes of Wrath on his e-reader and still expect to get that summer job with Walmart, even if they had to read the thing for Grade 11 English.
Welcome to The Golden Age of Self-Censorship.