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“E-Reader Police?”

The New York Reviews of Books has an article reminding us that today in 2007 Amazon introduced its electronic reading device, the Kindle. Francine Prose is not concerned about paper vs electronic reader but on privacy of readers. E-book retailers are now able to tell which books we have finished or not finished, how fast we have read read them, and precisely where we snapped them shut. I’m not surprised or bothered by the fact. In the age of electronic devices, and with the aid of social media, every move of ours can be tracked and traced. Publicity means tractability. Our smart phones are really GPS by which the government can tract our whereabouts and ply into the information and sites we are looking at.

I digress. As per books the data show mystery/thriller and romance are the two most popular genres readers most likely to finish the books. But does that mean readers would feel guilty and shameful about not finishing a book? Will it ever happen that someone can be convicted of a crime because a passage that he is found to have read, many times, on his e-book? I think Francine Prose is way too opinionated and paranoid about how readers’ habit are being too transparent. Does it really matter? Does everything have implications?

4 Responses

  1. Are you saying that collecting data on what we consume has no implications?

    • No, but I don’t really care one way or the other. Does it mean I’m terrorist if I’m perusing everything pertaining to ISIS? And who is going to monitor what everyone is reading?

      • Concerns about government access to private information usually relate to the potential for governments to build tools for manipulation of public opinion. It’s easy to from a UK/US perspective to think of government as benign, something that has historically added checks and balances power, something which, in turn, has been reinforced since defeating totalitarianism. I don’t see what’s so objectionable to citizens being alert to a rollback of those checks and balances. Power is sometimes abused. The danger of not caring about what people can find out about yourself is probably not that great for most situations, but only someone naive would think that those who have access to their information are always going to act in their best interests.

  2. I don’t think there’s much danger of what people do find out about me from the trails of my e-reading device, but I am worried about identity theft. I’m distrustful about doing any banking on my cellphone.

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