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Daily Archives: October 20, 2022

How Amazon Accelerated the Commodification of Literature

LitHub: “Amazon founder Jeff Bezos came up with the slogan “Get Big Fast” because he knew size was crucial to exacting ever lower prices from suppliers. Publishers have tried to respond to Amazon’s power by doing the exact same thing, accelerating their decades-long campaign of mergers and acquisitions to consolidate into an ever smaller number of bigger firms all trying to publish ever bigger books (like the memoirs of Barack and Michelle Obama, for which Penguin Random House advanced an astonishing $65 million). The push towards “big” explains Penguin Random House’s play to absorb Simon & Schuster. Matt Stoller describes the merger as “defensive, an attempt to gain bargaining power against a monopolist bookseller.” This kind of producer integration is an understandable response to overly powerful buyers, especially since antitrust law prevents separate companies from banding together to create countervailing power. But it causes knock-on problems for suppliers and workers downstream. As Stoller puts it, “it’s not fair that authors must sell on the terms laid down by increasingly powerful publishers, but this dynamic is driven by the far more unfair situation whereby publishers are dealing with the utterly ruthless trillion dollar powerhouse Amazon.” An increasing “bestseller” mentality contributes to the vulnerability of independent presses to being absorbed. Mass-market retailers only stock the titles they predict will be hits, and online marketplaces amplify the books that are shifting fastest. This results in “a cycle so self-fulfilling it’s nearly tautological: Best sellers sell the best because they are best sellers.” As a result, according to book analyst Mike Shatzkin, “the medium-sized publishers can’t sustain themselves anymore. They can’t compete for the really big titles, so they get bought.”…

Google offers more control over the ads you see

ZDNet: “Google on [October 20, 2022] began rolling out a new tool that gives users more control over the ads they see when using Google products – without hampering the way products like Google Search, Discover, and YouTube actually work. My Ad Center, among other things, lets users block whole categories of ads they’re not… Continue Reading

Texas AG Sues Google for its Unau­tho­rized Cap­ture and Use of Bio­met­ric Data and Vio­la­tion of Tex­ans’ Privacy

“Attorney General Paxton has sued Google, alleging that the tech giant has unlawfully captured and used the biometric data of millions of Texans without properly obtaining their informed consent to do so.  The lawsuit alleges that Google, in yet another violation of Texans’ privacy, has collected millions of biometric identifiers, including voiceprints and records of… Continue Reading

Freedom on the Net 2022: Countering an Authoritarian Overhaul of the Internet

“Global internet freedom declined for a 12th consecutive year as more governments erected digital barriers designed to censor dissent and monitor users, according to a report released today by Freedom House. The study finds that more than three-quarters of the world’s internet users now live in countries where authorities punish people for exercising their right… Continue Reading

State of the Birds 2022

NACBI: “The United States and Canada have lost 3 billion breeding birds since 1970—a loss of 1 in 4 birds, according to research published in Science in 2019. This steep decline in abundance can be reversed with new scales of conservation actions that benefit not only birds but also wildlife and people. When birds thrive,… Continue Reading

‘Independent State Legislature Theory’

Brennan Center – Who Protects Your Vote?: “The “inde­pend­ent state legis­lature theory” is a misread­ing of the Consti­tu­tion, advanced in recent years by a small group of right-wing advoc­ates, that would give state legis­latures wide author­ity to gerrymander elect­oral maps and pass voter suppres­sion laws. It has even been used as polit­ical cover to try… Continue Reading

TikTok Parent ByteDance Planned To Use TikTok To Monitor The Physical Location Of Specific American Citizens

Forbes: “…The team behind the monitoring project — ByteDance’s Internal Audit and Risk Control department — is led by Beijing-based executive Song Ye, who reports to ByteDance cofounder and CEO Rubo Liang. The team primarily conducts investigations into potential misconduct by current and former ByteDance employees. But in at least two cases, the Internal Audit… Continue Reading

Rights holders got Google to remove 6 billion links from Search over 10 years

Ars Technica: “Over the past decade, Google has consistently documented its efforts to remove links from its search results to content that the tech giant considers pirated, and recently, the total number of Google takedowns since its reporting began has shot past 6 billion. It’s a milestone that Torrent Freak suggested shows that, “[w]hile copyright… Continue Reading