Eyes in the Cloud

you_box People’s willingness to pay money for media content they can’t keep on their own physical shelf continues to speak volumes about the triumph of corporate interests in our market-totalitarian age. Did you know that you are restricted from cutting-and-pasting more than a small percentage from “e-books” you allegedly own?

Anyhow, I come not just to preach against Kindles, but to denounce “cloud” music and computing.

Did you catch last week’s news that running the USA’s fleet of data servers now devours 10 nuclear plants’ worth of electricity?

And why the big push toward cloud computing, you might wonder? What’s the great advantage to having people store their music collections, for instance, on remote, centralized computers? For the individual music listener, doing that only adds another layer of complexity and vulnerability, as any loss of internet access then means loss of one’s “own” music catalog.

The real reason is the usual one, of course. It resides on the corporate side of the “cloud” deal:

“Fanalytics” — Analytics and Data Mining of Online Music Activity
Music fan behavior has changed in well-documented ways — and with it, the art and science of charting the popularity of music. The Echo Nest’s “Fanalytics” is a suite of music activity analytics tools and data to give customers a holistic understanding of music activity for enhanced music discovery, editorial and targeted advertising applications.

The point undoubtedly applies to other forms of cloud computing, as well. Everytime you put something on Google or Apple’s servers, you allow Google or Apple and their corporate data-mining customers to see yet another dimension of what you are doing and how you are built.

5 Replies to “Eyes in the Cloud”

  1. And that is one reason among several that more than a few Apple computer users are still running OSX 10.6 (Snow Leopard), and have resisted ‘upgrading’ to the cloud-friendly Lion and Mountain Lion operating systems, which facilitate (and encourage) integration of the owner’s bullpen of Apple devices via the cloud.

  2. I have to admit… I have mixed feelings… While I don’t give a f*** about cloud storage of music, facebook data etc…. the Kindle is nice… I bought it because there are so many classic books available for free in the Kindle format. I’ve read tens of awesome books on my Kindle paying nothing, including huge ones (e.g. Adam Smith).
    That said, it certainly makes me paranoid that somebody can easily see how mush socialisty stuff I read, but the same applies to the standard purchase history through amazon…

    Still, the Kindle should only be a supplement, not a replacement for regular book – having e-book dominance is truly scary: you can wipe out the knowledge base of humanity without having to burn a single book. And ultimately it is not necessary – some of the books I read electronically, I bought hard copies of anyway…

    A few years back there was a hilarious, and scary, episode when Amazon had to pull – literally delete – copies of Orwell’s “1984” (sic! you can’t make this stuff up) from people’s kindles due to copyright issues. Read about it here:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/18/technology/companies/18amazon.html

  3. Marla, I’m also attracted to the idea of e-reading, within certain limits. But it galls me that they put limits on how you can use books you supposedly own. With modern scanning and OCR, I could wallpaper my house with the contents of my paper books, and am free to cut and paste from them all I want. It peeves me no end that they are so damned greedy and paranoid. And I do fear a world without paper books, not least because electronic publishing is more centralized, with all the attendant problems.

  4. This used to be handled by format changes and probate courts, washing out art collections over the generations with transfer fees, so that only elites would be allowed to own art. Putting all life on subscription is an even more hideous way, because it could lead to even unintentional loss of access by the elites themselves. See The Death of Art from this June.

  5. On kindles specifically, part what makes them terrible is the ability to control and adjust fonts, and “search” for old text.

    We’ve apparently forgotten that the artist once might’ve chosen typeset, woodblock prints, paper type and page-position to help convey her message.

    Now, everything is pliable except the spelling of the words–which will no doubt continue to be “modernized” until ever-shifting, constantly re-licensed streaming data files are comparable to the old only by similarities of title.

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