Over the past few years there has been an explosion in the amount of data being transferred from users’ brains to permanent storage (a.k.a. “the cloud”), where it can be sifted through and analyzed by anyone with access to it. Typically, the ones with access are the major corporations that are doing the “hosting”. Like any good “host”, they soon know everything about you, down to the most intimate details, and have no compunction at all about selling that information to practically anyone who will pay for it.
Who knows everything there is to know about you? Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle – do any of these names sound familiar?
A decade or go I first got a hint of this when I worked on a project called “Interactive TV” at Sun Microsystems. It became clear early on that what they meant by “interactive” was “figuring out which advertisements to show you based on what you watched and responded to”. At that time it was only a computer corporation’s wet dream but since then it has become commonplace. Anyone with Gmail has seen that page littered with what Google believes are appropriate ads from information gleaned from the content of your personal correspondence. Facebook with its billion users and deeply vertical penetration into their individual worlds is a boiling cauldron of personal data leading to unlimited advertising potential.
More and more players are getting into the game, including, finally, publishers. Players like Amazon and Barnes and Noble, through their Kindle and Nook devices, are now able to tap even deeper into your brain. They can see deep down even into which sentences people highlight. Just as there are companies which specialize in “search engine optimization”, there will soon be companies which will help writers and publishers fine tune their products down to the word level – they will know exactly which kinds of phrases are sure to get the lady erotica readers hottest, and which technical terms resound in the brains of teen sci-fi fanatics. There is really no end to the potentials of tailorization. That thing that used to be known as “creativity” will finally be tackled and nailed down.
They know who you are and they know what you like. Your pleasure centers will be stimulated precisely and eternally, joy without end. Hallelujah.
So I don’t know what Tower Books’ selection engine is smoking … I will probably not use them to test my new (patent-pending) predictive shopping software, where “we know what you’ll want, so we just charge it and ship it now”. You get an email informing you that your new bluetooth-solar-six-slice-toaster is on its way, and you’re like , ‘wow, they really know me! i was so totally going to buy that!:
It’s easy to envision a time when all writers go “Indie”, selling directly to the world through intermediaries like Amazon and Smashwords. In those days the major authors will become like designer labels, maybe even establishing their own ‘houses’, producing works of promising up-and-coming copycats. Rather than a book being billed as ‘Random House’ it would be promoted as a ‘Michael Crichton’. Genres will become brands, like perfumes and designer suits.
Nostrathomas says: the end result of all this “socialism” talk will be the general realization that hey, yeah, that IS a good thing
continuing on towards my prophecy of the future of computers as being embedded in the body
This is the problem facing the U.S. in Afghanistan. Ultimately, there is no victory here. The military wants to secure the cities (“counter-insurgency”) which abandons the countryside to the “enemy” (tribes and taliban) – it’s a strategy of deliberate seige disguised as a surge. In the long run, it makes no sense. Al-Qaeda had not established its bases in the cities there, but in the same countryside we are now willing to cede. The original plan (“win all over”) proved to be impossible. The proposed alternative (abandon the cities as well as the countryside and just worry about Al-Qaeda along the border with Pakistan) is a non-starter, politically as well as militarily. It didn’t work for Clinton and it won’t work now.
Obama has only one choice, politically and militarily, but he is making it look like he is considering others (as if they existed!), so he looks thoughtful and rational, but he is in a box. The West will eventually lose in Afghanistan, so the problem is how to lose without losing. He will, after this period of pseudo-deliberation, go with the military approach, so as not to be perceived as weak on defense, an appeaser, or a loser of wars. They will hole up in the cities and try to keep (American) casualties to a minimum. They will claim successes along the way, while they string this out for at least three years.
If Obama is voted out in 2012, it will no longer be his problem. If he is re-elected, well, he’ll just have to deal with the “situation on the ground” at that time. In the meantime, his only option is to look tough (but thoughtful), act tough (if ineffectively), and talk tough. Can he do that? Yes he can.
In reality, the Al-Qaeda threat is as overblown as the Communist hysteria of the fifties and sixties. The all-out war in Afghanistan should never have taken place – an invasion force to wipe out Al-Qaeda was as far as it should have gone. We should never have tried to do anything more.
We already knew that Sarah Palin was ignorant and insane, but really … “Obama’s Death Panels Would Have Euthanized My Baby” ???
Something is going on with the right wing in this country that’s kind of alarming. Their lynch mob mentality is getting hotter and wilder.
Nostrathomas predicts that ‘bad things will happen’
There will be a calm before a storm
The darkest hour will be just before the dawn
Things will get worse before they get better
Supply and demand
The better to see you with, my dear
A job will be taken and shoved
Five-letter words will be spoken often
Cause and effect
Heavens to Mergatroid
and finally …
Somewhere a butterfly will flap its wings and it won’t make a damn bit of difference to anything anywhere