November 2007 Archives

The Big Ball of Mud and Other Architectural Disasters

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Amazon Kindle

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Amazon showed off its new eBook reader this week. While I've always been intrigued by the concept of electronic distribution of books, magazines, etc., I've never really looked into it much.

The concept is appealing, at least initially, but after hearing a few things on the 'net and listening to Jeff Bezos on The Charlie Rose Show, I am pretty appalled...

Amazon's implementation and Bezos' thought processes really frighten me..

First off, the idea of DRM on eBooks is a real issue. For me, part of the importance of books is that they are yours. You can do what you want with them - give them away, resell them, annotate them, pass them on to your kids, etc. How are you going to do that with a Kindle?

For years the publishing companies have tried to wipe out used books sellers or make things difficult for them. A prime example is the text book industry - the current trick is to create new editions of books that really don't need it to keep prices inflated. For physics texts this is nuts - standard textbooks being updated when electricity & magnetism haven't changed in 50 years?

Secondly, what about people who can't afford these things? If eBooks become the de facto standard, as Bezos seemed to imply, will we return to the era when only the rich could afford to own books? Sure the price of the device will go down, but will the cost of the eBooks? Can you will your Kindle to your kids or do they have to pay all over again for the same eBooks? I see another digital divide growing here.

What is the privacy situation with the Kindle? Its always attached to 'the network' via EVDO, but what happens if you were to take a prohibited work into China or something similar?

What about orphaned works?

What is the role of a publisher when they don't have to actually print anything? Why should they even make any money here - can't I just publish my Lab Manual directly through Amazon and have all the money go into my pocket? Promotion is no longer an issue if a reader can find what they want to read via Amazon's various recommendation systems, or via social networking like Facebook, et al.

I just don't like the implications anymore... gimme dead trees any day.

Also see:

If They Come, How Will They Build It?

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This is a very interesting article on setting up software development environments which make it easier to bring in new developers...;jsessionid=680FEB7AA005D599C2C58CFB4074C702

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