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Likely Stories

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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Friday, August 6, 2010 2:30 pm
Weeklings: E-books Offer Too Much Privacy, Should Be Banned
Posted by: Keir Graff

On Slate, in “Judging a Book by Her Cover,” Mark Oppenheimer offers the following lament: ”Simply put, our gadgets give us too much privacy.” Someone should tell Cory Doctorow!

Oppenheimer is talking about the charm of seeing what people are reading, rather than which e-book reader they own, of course — a sad turn aptly summed up in this cartoon.

In Salon, Matt Zoller Seitz takes a somewhat contrarian stance when he explains “Why I Like Vicious, Anonymous Online Comments.” But what does he know? Matt Zoller Seitz is a graceless, bumbling idiot. Whoops — this isn’t anonymous, is it?

And yet anonymous comments — all of them, even the written equivalent of high-speed drive-by shootings — serve a useful function. They show us what the species is really like: the full spectrum of human behavior, not just the part that we find reassuring and enlightening.

But guess who doesn’t like vicious, anonymous online comments? Sarah Palin. Or the people who administer her Facebook page, at any rate. Back to Slate, again, where John Dickerson profiles the people who are “Not Sarah Palin’s Friends.” With a little sleuthing, it is discovered that, over a 12-day period, roughly 10 percent of the comments on her Facebook page were deleted. What triggers a comment for deletion? Some of the answers, such as “Too much agreement,” may surprise you.

And in another tale of selective digital policy, let’s go now to the New York Times‘ Bits blog and a harrowing tale of discrimination, “No E-Books Allowed in This Establishment.”

Annoyed with this distinction, I peppered the employee with questions on why reading on paper was more acceptable than reading on a screen. Flustered and confused by the existential debate he had been dragged into, the employee resolutely said, “Look, no computers in the coffee shop.”

And that’s all for this week…I’m off on vacation!



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