Monday, October 22, 2012

Big Brother is Alive and Well and Living in Your e-Reader.

I read George Orwell's 1984 back in the 1960s when I was in high school. The whole concept of Big Brother was disturbing but not too difficult to dismiss as impossible.  After all, this was before personal computers, cell phones, the Internet, and e-readers.

Now we have a TV show, Person of Interest, with a similar premise - that someone is always watching - and it doesn't seem quite so unbelievable anymore.

When I first started shopping on line, I had a terrible time giving out my credit card information.  How could it possibly be secure out there?  Now, of course, we put almost everything out there.  Financial data? Sure.  Medical information? No problem. Social gatherings? Absolutely.  Let have them on line.

But there was still the illusion that we were in control. If I entered my banking information on line, that was my choice. If I wanted to shop on line - knowing my purchases would be tracked and used for marketing purposes - well, that was up to me.  If I purchased books for my e-reader, I knew those purchases were recorded in a file somewhere so someone could look up my reading preferences, see what I liked to read.

But how about the way I read?  Could someone watch over my shoulder and see how fast I read a story?  Where I stopped?  What pages I re-read? If I skipped to the end of a mystery to see whodunit?  I mean, once I purchased a book for my e-reader, what I did with it was no one's business but my own, right?

If you believe this is true, you need to read this story in the Wall Street Journal, WSJ: Your E-Book is Reading You .

Does anyone else find this just a bit terrifying?  Or am I too old-school?

Funnies for Today:

Do you find Windows error messages annoying?  How about these soothing Haiku alternatives?

Out of memory.
We wish to hold the whole sky,
But we never will.

Having been erased,
The document you're seeking
Must now be retyped.

Three things are certain:
Death, taxes, and lost data.
Guess which has occurred.

Stay the patient course
Of little worth is your ire.
The network is down

A file that big?
It might be very useful.
But now it is gone.

Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent, and reboot.
Order shall return.

Yesterday it worked
Today it is not working
Windows is like that.

With searching comes loss
and the presence of absence:
"My Novel" not found.


mooderino said...

I don't mind the ebook data stuff. Seems like the least dangerous stuff for 'them' to know. Famous last words...


Maria Zannini said...

I've known this for a while and it really bugs me.

What if I were doing research on voodoo dolls and underlined key passages in an ebook? Then one of my friends (strictly hypothetical) dies from a mysterious malady and police find a voodoo doll at the scene with emails between us discussing black magic.

How long before this information can be entered into a court of law?

Sounds insane, but I put nothing past the legal system now. The digital world has ramifications we aren't even aware of yet.

Linda G. said...

I have to admit the idea bugs me, just on general principle. My "default" is always in the direction of more privacy, not less.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Our cell phones track us, too, which is really scary.

Tara Tyler said...

fabulous haiku!!

with a haiku on
your lips, the errors of loss
easier to take!

and my book uses our hunger to know whos doing what where & how much! no where to hide!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

They already track us online - why not spy on us through our eReaders?
They've probably already decided I play way too many games on my iPad.

Stacy McKitrick said...

Did you just give me another reason NOT to own an e-reader? :)

But really, I don't think I'd care if someone saw how I read. It's all that other stuff we give out that scares the crap out of me!

LD Masterson said...

mood - I'm not sure why this bothers me when, as you say, 'they' know so much already, but it really does.

LD Masterson said...

Maria - I've know about it for awhile but it's been nagging at me to the point I needed to say something. I read somewhere that it can already be obtained by law enforcement with a warrant. Not sure what it can be used for after they get it.

LD Masterson said...

Linda G. - And reading a book just feels like a private act, don't you think?

LD Masterson said...

Diane - Yes and I believe pictures you post online that were taken with a cell phone can carry GPS infomation from that phone.

Very scary.

LD Masterson said...

Tara - Thanks. I felt I needed to offer something light after that disturbing topic. I like yours.

LD Masterson said...

Alex - I don't want to think about what they've decided about me.

LD Masterson said...

Stacy - It ALL scares the crap out of me.

Anonymous said...

Kind of makes me not want to buy ebooks. But of course I will. Thanks for the heads-up, Linda. :)

Carol Kilgore said...

I'm aware, but not surprised. We're tracked in so many ways, what's one more? Soon there will be so much data, my hope is no one will be able to sort it out.

Nicki Elson said...

Really, if our computer's not working the least it could do is write us a poem.

I do find all the info-collecting about us to be scary - but I also don't see what we can do about it, which makes it doubly scary.

LD Masterson said...

Linda J. - I still buy paper when I can but just because I like reading that way. As more and more books are released in e-form only, buying ebooks is pretty much a given.

LD Masterson said...

Carol - There's a thought. Privacy through data chaos. I like it.

LD Masterson said...

Nicki - The fact that it's inevitable isn't very comforting, is it?

Eve said...

Hey LD...I read '1984' in the '70's and at the time it did seem far fetched, but disturbing to think that it may happen, and now, it's happening. Big Brother is watching, but that being said, I guess it doesn't really bother me so you said, shopping online is my choice,(and I gotta admit, I do a lot of that!)..I don't have facebook mainly because I find it a waste of time. I can't believe the things people post on there...and almost none of it is in any way useful to anyone...
as for e-readers, I've never had one and don't think I'll get one. They just don't appeal to me.(Not yet anyway!)..I'd rather hold a real book. I will read the article you mentioned...intriguing post!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

You always crack me up.
I love Person of Interest but it has made me more wary. Three weeks ago, my son's bank account was hacked and all his money taken by a coordinated attack happening simultaneously from two different states. It was clever and effective. Bank is making good on it, but it is scary.

Karin said...

Ok. I know I may be jaded but you have to understand I am a retired pediatrician who has been subpoenaed more than once. My general rule is to never write anything on the Internet that I would not say in a court of law. I just imagine an attorney saying: "Now doctor, can you explain this ....". Must admit it makes you hit the delete button on occasion It saved my derrière more than once --that and compulsive record keeping !

Lydia Kang said...

Ack, I don't want my e-reader watching me!

LD Masterson said...

Eve - I'm with you on preferring real books but when an author I like (especially friends) have a book released in e-format only, I've got to use an e-reader.

LD Masterson said...

Susan - Thanks. I like to give people a good laugh.

What happenned to your son is very scary, even if the bank covered the loss.

LD Masterson said...

Karin - Do you think having someone tracking your reading habits (and possibly giving that information to the courts)could come back to bite you?

LD Masterson said...

Lydia - Yup. Very unsettling.

Liz Fichera said...

You are not alone on the whole My E-Reader is watching me thing...but, then again, if anyone needs to know how long it takes me to read a book, they seriously need to get a life. :)

LD Masterson said...

Liz - Good point.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I also find the fact Google, Yahoo, etc. know so much about me a little creepy. Okay, a lot creepy. But I don't plan to go off the grid anytime soon. :D

LD Masterson said...

Patricia - Agree. I may be bothered by a lot of it but I'm not ready to go offline.