Monday, April 13, 2009

Amazon: amazonfail

Well, probably everyone has heard about Amazon's big PR disaster from the weekend. Bunches of feminist, LGBT, and other books lost their book ranking (and hence would not show up near the top of searches) due to being labeled as "adult" material. Plenty of other materials that were obviously adult in nature escaped the purge.

You know, there's just no way this was anything other than a screwup. This is Amazon, big book (and everything else) seller to men, women, gay, and straight. There's no way that they're going to censor (see the next paragraph for a discussion of whether this is censorship) such work. As one of my colleagues pointed out, things are either a conspiracy or a cockup. I'm going for the latter on this one unless some evidence that a crack squad of hackers working for Jerry Falwell's crowd hacked Amazon.

Aha! Censorship in the age of distributed knowledge. Is it censorship to push items down the search results? It's not exactly the same as the closed stacks, the books hidden away, but it's mighty close. How do we look for things? With google of course. And with amazon if we're talking about books. If it's not in the first page, it only sort of exists. Ten thousand entries down? Long tail or not, it's hidden away.

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