Saturday, May 24, 2008

Conquering the last terrain of analog - Amazon's Kindle (Part II)

No windows persuading me to make all sorts of consumption pop up from my book. And no one knows that I am reading at a particular time in a particular place. But once the device is stuck onto your body, you are constantly under tracking by these big brands. Every body is accessible. They learn about your movement, your next stop and your next encounter. They hold the key to your minds. Readers will only be blinded with the ideological excitement of possessing this so-called freedom of connection to the infinite space of knowledge. You think you are now communicating with many more people around the world at any time any space but on the other side of the coin, you are actually being barred from connecting with groups that are less up-to-date. The immediacy of update widens our information lapse from person to person. Information one possesses easily deteriorates. The common ground for discussions is gradually shrinking due to this temporal difference in information reception.

"Book clubs could meet inside of a book." (Newsweek, 70) To a certain extent, yes, readers are no longer confined to a physical space for book salon or discussions but in turn, they are now confined to that virtual space which is highly manipulated by the space administrator, which is Amazon in this case. Instead of "making the entire works of humankind available to all people", they are now only available to those born in the digital age, more affiliated and knowledgeable mass. The rich poor gap is constantly widening, not only between the analog and digital camp, but also among those in the digital net. It is no longer a fair game. Within a global scale, those living in the third world will never get a taste of such technology. Even they are willing to read, their knowledge simply depreciates compared to other parts of the globe. Capital thus flows from around the world to those knowledgeable elites who are now connecting among themselves and sharing all sorts of information at an ever accelerating speed.

The whole evolution from analog to digital is a coercion that builds upon excessive needs and constantly making one feels that he or she is out-of-date. They will not point a gun at your head to force you to buy the new edition. Yet by gradually limiting and finally ceasing to release that previous edition, buyers had no choice but to switch to the newer one. This will certainly happen to the production of books in the near future. Books will not extinct but perhaps not each and every piece of writings will have the chance to release a book version. As Amazon's database expands, fewer and fewer publishers could resist the entire digitization movement.

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