My thougts on the kindle and techonology advancing past books

I write more for other people’s blogs then I do my own.

When I think of the Kindle, I think of an awesome device (the big one is wonderful to use) with a free data connection that needs to be hacked to be useful. Hacked to remove the ability to remove books. Hacked to allow browsing of the web. Hacked to allow my own content to be freely placed on the device. The hacking negates the free data plan because the device no longer functions along Amazon’s business model, but it’s your device – so you can use it how you like. You should be able to get your own data plan. ($20/month)

I don’t see why “E-Readers” would have to remove community behind books and libraries. I can argue that “social networks” could work around the devices and books. Especially around trading books – I’ll get into the legality of that–how authors could still get paid and the usefulness and harmfulness of DRM Encryption in that situation–some other time.

I can also argue that libraries are a place for more then retrieving books. You have librarians who are paid experts and curators of knowledge. A Kindle may have a library of books, but it doesn’t have librarians. On a side note, they don’t have quiet work areas or comfy chairs either.

But even though I have a library down the block from my house, I haven’t had the need to be in one for a long while. I have my own comfy chair, and don’t read books that often.

One thing the Kindle does facilitate that a library can’t is that I could write a book and publish it on the Kindle for free, and distribute it worldwide without cost and with an excellent margin. Sites like Lulu allow me to make print copies, but their costs are non-trivial (good rates, but not cheap). That kind of freedom is liberating. I wont argue that publishing companies are worthless, as they are not, but they’ve had a monopoly on publishing for a long time. Devices like the Kindle allowing for self-publishing make me very happy.

In my head, preferring a paper book over a kindle is akin to preferring a small black and white TV over a larger color one. I don’t see the technology being the problem; it’s a tool like any other, and it can be just as enabling for you and me as it can for companies like Amazon and BookSwim.

Comments?

21 Dog Years is horrible

21 dog years sucked
First off I wont finish this book, none of the reviewers or the author will probably mind. The book 21 Dog Years – Doing time @ amazon.com by Mike Daisey is funny, well written and mostly about Mike Daisey’s love affair with the cult of amazon.com. I say mostly because I don’t care to finish it and he’s just as likely to join any other cult before the book ends. He starts off as a slacker with a degree in Aesthetics and works phones for amazon eventually. Somewhere in the middle he drinks the flavor-aid and as a trainee wants to make love to Jeff Bezos. Who in his defense is an attractive man.

I read about half the book, I’m just not going to share all of it with you. I’m also sure it shows more about how amazon internal politics and culture works. Everything I’ve read and seen about any of the big west coast tech companies makes me glad I live on the east coast. All that morning sun over the oceans turns them wacky.

The author is like Chuck Palahniuk of fight club fame. Choke, and Survivor are also good. I haven’t gotten around to Invisible monsters yet because if I read too much of his writing I want to kill myself and I’d probably enjoy it or think it was funny. He’s dark and ironic and funny. Mike Daisey is ironic and a little funny and tries to write with the same style. He failed it.

Mike Daisey, I didn’t finish your book so I don’t know if your girlfriend broke up with you over all the devotion you showed to amazon, or maybe how you left. I hope some where in there she did leave you. I don’t like you, and I don’t think you’re very funny. I’m also happy you seem like the kind of guy who doesn’t care.

-Francis

PS This is probably one of my meanest book reviews ever, but I don’t like the book. Also the fact the FISA Amendment Act passed hasn’t quite hit me yet. Watch out America.

Hacker Crackdown!

One of my new interests Cory Doctorow read a book (which is just as much in interest) called The Hacker Crackdown by Bruce Sterling. If you’re curious why a bunch of kids playing on computers have an entire culture to work with then you should probably read this book. If you’re curious about why in the beginning of the movie Hackers an entire SWAT team was allowed to storm a house (and presumably took every computer, electronic device, and piece of paper in the house for an indefinite period of time) then you should probably read this book. If your curious how the first and largest network in America came about and why it’s owned by AT&T (and still is) then you should read this book.

In fact let me help you out. I have an edited podcast of Cory Doctorow’s reading and a Gutenberg PDF of the book. Both perfectly legal as Bruce not only let his book be distributed for free electronically (since 1992!) he also gave Cory permission to read it as long as he distributed his reading for free. See where I’m going with this? Cory publishes all his work under The Creative Commons License which says as long s I mention it’s his work then I can share it as much as I like.

So have it it. I made a torrent, you can download it right here.
DOWNLOAD TORRENT OF THE HACKER CRACKDOWN

What’s a torrent? Well I can’t blame you it’s sorta new, and not everyone knows what it is yet. Go download uTorrent or azureus and read up on how torrents work. Both utorrent and azureus have documentation on how to use them but you basically take my small file and use it to get the set of files for the Hacker Crackdown. It’s a large mp3 and a pdf. I’d give you the files right here but they’re big and I have to pay for my server’s bandwidth! In fact I have a large enough audience that if I offered both files up for download and paid for all the bandwidth that you would all use I’d be in the poor house pretty quick.

So as long as people will “seed” the torrent (as I do at home, but as of this writing so do 15 other people so I don’t even have to anymore.) then anyone can download the files free of charge. And it frees me of charges too, because you’re getting the file mostly from each other instead of me.

I’m glad technology like this exists.

Sweet Jeepers.

Today
2pm to 7pm (GMT – with then an hour on the tube and the bus)
Edinburgh to London

Tomorow
1pm to 4:15 pm (GMT and EST respectivly)
London to Toronto

6:15 PM to 8:00 pm (EST)
Toronto to NYC

It’s a lot of traveling but I’m going home!

PS. My first reaction to the Mac Mini was “It’s a deck!”. It’s about the size of a mousepad, 2 inches high. I’m in the middle of reading “Count Zero” by William Gibson. In most of his books computers are just “decks” and are interfaces to the “Matrix” (net) and you use basicly a keyboard and a nuro link (for vision mostly but it is possible to have it be the input to your nero system so you no get all your senses from the computer… go read the books), so if you got a dvi jack in the base of your skull and strapped a keyboard to the top of that thing you’d have all the hardware you needed to be a cowboy.

As for the iPod Shuffle.

The caption under the “gum” picture reads, “iPod Shuffle: Smaller than a pack of gum and much more fun.(2)”

(2) “Do not eat iPod shuffle.”

Wyrms

This is my first entry in the books category. I’ve finally made the time to take up reading again and it’s done me well.

Wyrms by Orison Scott Card is the book I finished tonight. And while many, many books deserve to be talked about and mentioned, as well as my philosophy on books, reading and stories, I’m going to just stick with this one tonight.

Oh and like my movie reviews this isn’t going to be an actual review just my reaction or something I want to share from it. Click on the amazon link to read some reviews on the book, I don’t want to write one.

Wyrms like most of Orison Scott Card’s books has a character, rather a group with one person who is in someway special. And they eventually fulfill their destiny in a way that looks like they weren’t actually going to live up to it. This in no way shape or form detracts from the book. It just stood out to me so much that I had to mention it.

So what part of our “soul” makes us, us. Maybe soul is to loaded a word to use, I’m not going to get religious here. Our essence, our life force, whatever in our minds that makes us tick. I’ve actually had the pleasure of talking with a friend about this a lot lately. And at this hour of the night I can’t really go into all of it properly. I just tried and frankly it sounded like bullshit. Don’t worry I’ll try again later.

Pretend we have 3 parts to us. Our passions, our history (and knowledge) and our will.

Our passions can be swayed, they’re not even under our control most of the time. Any drug (chemical, natural, or human) can alter our passions. We crave foods with just a waft of sent passing by our noses. People smoke because niccotine gives them a temporary high, a relief, and it becomes a craving. People can fill us with emotions, or just plain lust. Beautiful people can be quite a distraction. We get addicted to drugs, alcohol, sex. All our additions lie with our passions.

Our history, or more aptly our knowledge of things around us can be boiled down to one question. “Why?” People who are driven by that question will spend their lives trying to answer it. It’s usually for the benefit of everyone that this question is asked and answered (our universities are filled with people on this path) but despite that it still doesn’t make the person. If you take away someone’s knowledge, do they cease to exist? Now for the history part, some people say our memories make us who we are. But there are people out there who forget things, weather it be amnesia, or alzheimer’s or just a blow to the head, they may cease to remember but they will still be them selves. Still be them, they may not have the same thoughts but what ever crafts those thoughts will still be there.

Our will is where we reside. Its our action, what we do when we do it. We can have our passions wrapped around us, our history taken away or manipulated, but our will (when exercised) ultimately decided what we do.

Please forgive my poor conveyance of this concept that I probably didn’t fully grasp in any detail from the book. I’m actually quite tired and had to rethink my arguments a few times while I was writing. The most important part to me (and you all could care less) is that I wrote it and you can read it. And now if you want you can go read the book – I’ll give you my copy – or you can go to your local library, or you can use my link up there and amazon will give me a cut if you buy it. And maybe prove me all wrong in this concept.

Maybe you’ve even seen it before and already know what to say.

The other idea that I liked from this book… I’d really like to contribute it to the characters but it was all written from one author. I wonder how one would get around that problem with books – or most stories in general – maybe non-fiction is the only escape, its all written by the same person but that person doesn’t have absolute control over the characters and events portrayed. I’ll refuse to believe any story verbatim.

Where was I? Oh yes. The other idea that I liked from this book was that god was everyone. Our collective will so to speak. If someone is acting by the will of god, it would really be the will of everyone (or their intent anyway).

Another was that we could not exist with out something to interact with. That there always has to be something else other wise we cease to exist. I wish I could explain this one more to you. But for the reasons previously stated I can’t, (unnecessary comma) and wont.

Hell of a first book post. Just goes to show I’m better at reading them then writing them. For now anyway. :-p

-Francis