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In the future, you don't read books; books read you.

Presumably there's a requirement to be connected to the Internet for some DRM-ish thing, which also reminds me of this: http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/right-to-read.html

(I only hope this doesn't turn into "This student has been accessing his textbook in a weird pattern... he must be trying to circumvent the DRM!")

I remember reading Stallman's "The Right To Read" in 1997 (see the parent for the link).

It describes the time where a student Dan can't even lend his own electronic books to another student, Lissa:

"He had to help her -- but if he lent her his computer, she might read his books. Aside from the fact that you could go to prison for many years for letting someone else read your books, the very idea shocked him at first. Like everyone, he had been taught since elementary school that sharing books was nasty and wrong -- something that only pirates would do."

We're getting closer every day to this dystopia.

> We're getting closer every day to this dystopia.

Except that as we approach it, piracy becomes more and more socially acceptable.

Yep, if we're meant to be thinking piracy is "nasty and wrong" then whoever's responsible for proliferating that are doing a terrible job. Actually with things like iPads and shared Netflix accounts children are probably learning digital sharing as completely natural to a pretty great extent.

Then again it doesn't take much to imagine throwing money at the right people to make sure ICT lessons focus on the horrors of piracy in addition to whatever drivel the current highest bidder's requesting.

Do you think that those students whose reading habits are analyzed (in the article we all comment here) are allowed to swap their reading devices or accounts? I guess they'd be punished if detected.

I would also not be surprised that the next step that the authorities invent is biometrics. Then they can be sure who is being tracked. Which is just one more kind of DRM.

(I see you are writing this from Brazil. Please note that not every country favors the same practices as yours.)

I would also not be surprised that the next step that the authorities invent is biometrics.

I was thinking the same thing --- we already have pretty good face recognition (e.g. laptop manufacturers have been marketing it as a convenient way to login), so ebook-reading software that needs to recognise who is reading before granting access to the content is absolutely plausible. They could even automatically report "copyright violations" if they detect someone else's face is also present, and who that is... the whole concept is horrifically disturbing.

+1 to piracy (or just paying for a book and then stripping the DRM/finding a DRM-free copy somewhere online) but I have a feeling that it's gradually becoming less socially acceptable in the West, and more difficult too. I remember the proliferation of P2P networks in the early 2000s and how easy it was to find almost anything that someone else had shared, but over the past few years much of that appears to have been neutered or driven deep underground.

They will probably get punished. They would be punished here too, and we'd have the exact same discussion about privacy and everything. Also, police and law systems are punishing piracy in several different ways.

Yet, do you disagree that piracy is getting more socially acceptable, not less?

It's a complex scenario, not a simple descend at absolutism.

When have you last time bought some video content? The last blue-ray I've legally bought first informed me that if I copy it I can get X years "in federal prison" then forced me to look at the ads lasting more minutes. On my new TV device, just to download the free apps I have to make an account by the manufacturer. Where I live piracy is actually always harder to be done, and that state doesn't even make life easier.

The counterpoint to that is that it has already become socially acceptable to persecute, arrest and jail people for the abominable crime of... sharing.

You're attacking a strawman and you know it.

Copyright has nothing to do with loaning devices/media to other people, it's about making copies.

If he lent her the book, then there's a good chance she'd buy her own copy if it was something she wanted to own after giving it back. If he put the book online, no one would ever have to buy it again.

This is terrible!

As .epub and .mobi come more into the fore, reading analytics has sneakily been introduced without any discussion or privacy debate. On js-enabled epub readers spying on one's readers could be as simple as setting up a web analytics backend. I know kindles also collect reader analytics[1].

We badly need free software like [2] to prevent this from happening under-the hood---any privacy-policy promises make by a vendor can't be trusted. Like Eben Moglen says, if they have the logs, there's nothing you can do.

Monitoring one's learning progress could be useful for adaptive learning content presentation and positive reinforcement, e.g., "you learned 7 new things last week." Effort is a great metric! I previously wrote [3] about a proposed learning metric similar to the stats reported by ''uptime''. Also, like gyardley said below, knowing the reader's "knowledge state" can promote the "being in the flow because I'm learning new stuff at the edge of my knowledge horizon"-feeling, so it's definitely something readers would like. Surely all the customized-learning value provided by a centralized web application can be reproduced in js on the client side, no?

[1] http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB1000142405270230487030...

[2] https://github.com/readium/readium-js-viewer

[3] http://minireference.com/blog/exams-suck/

> In the future, you don't read books; books read you.

The funny part of this statement is that, given a strong enough trend in this direction, there won't be a you for the books to read.

Then what?

Then we'll need to shift the analytics platform to understand where our "readership engagement progam" failed and tune the algorithms to identify borderline-literate "at risk" readers so that appropriate interventions can be made. We'll spend millions on these programs, most of which will be in bureaucracy, without ever fully understanding the crux of the problem or how our fear of lax engagement contributed to it.

It's curious in a way. Once you establish that behavior is more important that content, it ought to be obvious what the consequences will be.

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