Who pursues their goals with monomaniacal focus, oblivious to the possibility of negative consequences? Who adopts a scorched-earth approach to increasing market share? This hypothetical strawberry-picking AI does what every tech startup wishes it could do — grows at an exponential rate and destroys its competitors until it’s achieved an absolute monopoly. The idea of superintelligence is such a poorly defined notion that one could envision it taking almost any form with equal justification: a benevolent genie that solves all the world’s problems, or a mathematician that spends all its time proving theorems so abstract that humans can’t even understand them. But when Silicon Valley tries to imagine superintelligence, what it comes up with is no-holds-barred capitalism.
The PC is dead. Rising numbers of mobile, lightweight, cloud-centric devices don’t merely represent a change in form factor. Rather, we’re seeing an unprecedented shift of power from end users and software developers on the one hand, to operating system vendors on the other—and even those who keep their PCs are being swept along. This is a little for the better, and much for the worse.
How much computing freedom and personal privacy are we willing to give up for convenience? I’m less and less comfortable with the balance being struck.
Anyway, my point is that the Big Six’s pig-headed insistence on DRM on ebooks is handing Amazon a stick with which to beat them harder.
Currently, Amazon URLs are comprised of numeric strings and abbreviations that make them nearly useless for orientation, navigation, and as searchable text. I have no idea how I could manually edit an Amazon URL to move to a different part of the site and just looking at an Amazon link tells me very little about what it points to. Implementation details should be hidden in favor of URLs reflecting the organization of the site content.
Book: Leonardo’s Laptop
This gives me the ISBN, which isn’t of much use unless you have a memory for such things.
This gives me the media type, the category & sub-category, and the title of the book. Usability testing would show what characters would be best used in place of spaces, colons, ampersands, etc.
DVD: The Prisoner, Set 1
The actual URL indicates only the media type; no genre, no item name.
The Prisoner is the basis for “The Computer Wore Menace Shoes”, the Simpson’s episode (season 12, episode 6) in which Homer is abducted and imprisoned as Number 5 on an island where he is repeatedly drugged, involuntarily and otherwise.
Given Amazon’s breadth and depth, I’m sure setting up a clean URL scheme would be a big project. That is why programmers are paid big bucks!
- The info balloon for a “Tula’s, Seattle WA” search result.
- Clicking the left arrow several times moves up the block to Mama’s Mexican Kitchen.
If you haven’t seen it already, Robin Sloan’s future history of mass media, “EPIC 2014” is somewhat entertaining.