Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Amazon Part Deux

So: Amazon wants money more than it wants to be the Guardian of Moral Righteousness And All Things Ruddworthy... at least for the moment.

This article from the New York Times offers a little insight. But very little information, I fear, and it appears that Amazon isn't giving much of an explanation. Far from being a "storm in a teacup", there are way too many unanswered questions here for me to go back to being in any way comfortable with Amazon.

Right now, Bezos' boyz are claiming it was all "a glitch" in the system - without offering any kind of specifics as to how the "glitch" managed to be so very target specific. And of course, there's the question of the other little things Amazon did. A quote from the NYT aticle:

In a blog post late Monday, Mr. Seymour wrote that Amazon’s statement was a start, but not sufficient. “It does not explain why writers, like myself, were told by Amazon reps that our books were being classified as ‘adult products.’ ”

Likewise, there's no real explanation of how a book like American Psycho -- which is, let's face it, about as 'adult' as it's possible to be -- remained entirely unaffected by the shiny new classification system designed to protect us poor innocents from inadvertently suffering an UnRuddworthy Moment.

Hanlon's Razor says: Never Attribute To Malice That Which Can Adequately Be Explained By Stupidity. My personal view on this? I think we can attribute to 'stupidity' the failure by Amazon to foresee the response to this manuevre. But given the way their 'glitch' played out -- the specificity of its impact, and the piss-poor nature of Amazon's so-called 'explanation' -- I'm not convinced the targeting wasn't deliberate.

Still. For the moment, it seems to be fixed. But I'm relegating Amazon to 'fallback' status now; if I can find somebody else to supply me with the sort of off-beat and out-of-print stuff that comprises a lot of my interest, I will do so. Amazon will be the people I go to when I can't find anyone else.

After all... do we really want a monopoly on this service?


  1. I don't believe that they didn't have specific targets. To me, glitch is a bullshit excuse. I'd go a bit further to suggest that they were testing the waters to assess the levels of support and protest generated by such action. In my book this sort of shit doesn't happen by accident. I say fuck 'em.
    In your situation 'last resort' seems a good option.

  2. Yeah with Therbs on this. It lets one seeinto a future where this mob of fuckwads has a monopoly. Simply not good.

  3. There's a bit of this about at present. Youtube shut down outspoken atheist skeptic James Randi's channel - similarly it was supposedly a glitch, or moreover a legal requirement because 'someone' (probably a fundamentalist activist, though they got to hide behind procedural anonymity) had alleged copyright infringement on one of his videos (later disproven), but shutting down the entire channel smacked of fundy-instigated running-scaredness on Google's behalf. Malice or stupidity? Or all of the above - clever fundies finding ways to use the stupidity of bureaucracy in order to censor voices they don't want heard?

  4. 'AN unRuddworthy Moment'.


    I'm so stealing that.

  5. All yours, Mr Birmingham. That's a meme I'm only too happy to propagate. I've been measuring all my activities -- online and elsewhere -- in terms of their Ruddworthiness lately, and I'd encourage everyone else to think along those lines. Something on the order of WWRD instead of WWJD.