Amazon Kindle Equals the Death of Personhood, Ownership, and Free Speech?

by Chris Sturr | March 18, 2009

An interesting if broad-brush attack on e-book readers in today’s Christian Science Monitor:

All you really need to know about the dangers of digital commodification you learned in kindergarten.

Think back. Remember swapping your baloney sandwich for Jell-o pudding? Now, imagine handing over your sandwich and getting just a spoon.

That’s one trade you’d never make again.

Yet that’s just what millions of Americans are doing every day when they read “books” on Kindle, Amazon’s e-reading device. In our rush to adopt new technologies, we have too readily surrendered ownership in favor of its twisted sister, access.

Web 2.0 and its culture of collaboration supposedly unleashed a sharing society. But we can share only what we own. And as more and more content gets digitized, commercialized, and monopolized, our cultural integrity is threatened. The free and balanced flow of information that gives shape to democratic society is jeopardized.

But it comes with restrictions: You can’t resell or share your books—because you don’t own them. You can download only from Amazon’s store, making it difficult to read anything that is not routed through Amazon first. You’re not buying a book; you’re buying access to a book. No, it’s not like borrowing a book from a library, because there is no public investment. It’s like taking an interest-only mortgage out on intellectual property.

Read it here.

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