Big Brother is reading over your shoulder

I like technology. I really do. But sometimes it gives me the creeps.

Confession: I don’t own an e-reader, and probably never will. I’ve tried them, and yes, my wife has a Nook that the whole family uses, but so far the experience of flipping physical pages has not lost its allure. Besides, something about reading a book that isn’t actually there just bothered me, for no explainable reason.

Now I read in the Wall Street Journal that publishing companies can know not only what people read on their Kindle or Nook, but how often they read and what how many pages:

“The major new players in e-book publishing—Amazon, Apple and Google—can easily track how far readers are getting in books, how long they spend reading them and which search terms they use to find books. Book apps for tablets like the iPad, Kindle Fire and Nook record how many times readers open the app and how much time they spend reading. Retailers and some publishers are beginning to sift through the data, gaining unprecedented insight into how people engage with books.”

Not only that, but Amazon can highlight segments of text that are most popular. A spokesperson thinks of it as “the collective intelligence” of everyone reading Amazon ebooks.

This is not to say ebooks are evil–I think they’re ingenious, and I’m glad they give people the chance to read more and experience more.

But as for me–sorry, the only eyes I want over my shoulder are the flesh-and-blood kind of my sons who ask me about the book I’m reading.

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3 thoughts on “Big Brother is reading over your shoulder

  1. That settles it–print for me forever. There are times I don’t mind data collection, and if this helped the Big Six stabilize, that’d be a good thing. But not without my permission.

    I’m glad to see the WIP list in your sidebar, btw. 🙂 Yay!

    1. I know what you mean–I’m all for stats. Heck, I’m a librarian 🙂 But in this world of ever-evaporating privacy it’s just … unsettling.

      Thanks for the shout-out on the WIP list. If I wasn’t writing, I think my brain might implode…

      1. It is unsettling, and to me it’s even more unsettling that my kids will never know a world where they don’t have to think about how their lives will be exposed to individual or corporate strangers. They’re not very techie, other than they love their mp3 players and one has a non-wifi e-reader. I feel like I haven’t probably done enough to date to educate them about what underlies their tech use and how awareness should be part of decision-making.

        Amen to the writing. Keeps body and soul together as much as food does.

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