better biblio secrecy

My library’s website is down right now which is kind of odd and surprisingly inconvenient. I had not actually noticed how many times during the day I opened the site to add a book to my request list; turns out quite a few. They claim not to, but you know the library server keeps track of what you have borrowed if only for a nominal amount of time. But since there is nearly no monetary incentive to drive them, libraries don’t seem to hang onto that sort of data as tightly as the online vendors.

With the recent Kindle Takebacks and Google’s ‘guided’ searching, folks are starting to realize how much far up our backsides Amazon and Google have inserted themselves. Do we even count how many times a day we click ‘I accept’? What are we accepting really? Every book we buy, read, click, search for, is recorded and tracked and stuffed into ever expanding communal databases. ‘To serve you better’. We are constantly assured it’s for our own benefit. So that automated suggestions can be tailored to individually fit us. Cause apparently we have become a nation of blind sheep that need help finding our own socks in the morning.

Do we really want folks tracking our research habits? Do we want anyone besides our neighborhood librarian knowing we were looking up homeopathic remedies for STDs? or that we lost our job and needs books on how to live on next to nothing? how about a few unbanned blue novels? what other sorts of things are in our permanent file that we’d rather keep to ourselves? how about a few books on alternate lifestyles? racy fetishes? a little Janet Oke? some Thomas Kinkade? everyone has a few bugaboos in the closet we’d rather not share…when we read we follow our noses, we taste test things we know nothing about, it doesn’t mean we want to start getting spam mail about it. Just because I read DIY chemistry books doesn’t mean i want to pipe bomb my town hall. If things progress as they have been, these recorded clicks can be made available to Homeland Security and other curious onlookers without so much as a court order. Just a sternly worded yet strangely intimidating request seems to do the trick these days.

How much do we really TRUST Amazon and Google? Amazon has always and will always be led around by their bottom line…. Even turning both apparently blind eyes to blatantly sloppy selling tactics like selling hate speech in a country where it’s punishable by jail time. (Major FAIL guys) Google on the other hand, professes “Don’t Be Evil” but is apparently capable of much deliberate indifference. Collecting data for the sake of itself, isn’t always a good idea as we will soon discover. Insurance companies have computers too and are always hungry for new reasons to rescind our policies. Who’s to say in 5 years time when you Google hemorrhoid creams, Globohealth doesn’t red flag for hiding a preexisting condition? Don’t least when I buy a book on hemorrhoids, the clerk at the big box store hardly looks at the title of the book never mind remember my face.

BTW The Electronic Freedom Foundation has taken notice of that stockpile of clicks and is starting to stir up trouble for Google’s dataminers.

0 Responses to better biblio secrecy

  1. christina July 28, 2009 at 7:18 pm #

    My library search list has been down too. For the past two days. It's absolutely infuriating because I want to look up a couple of new books I spotted and their availability. Argh!

  2. Anonymous July 27, 2009 at 9:51 am #

    Actually, the lack of a borrowing records for returned library material has more to do with privacy issues. It's easier to keep the borrowing record private if the record is never kept.

    Most library circulation systems will keep track of how many times a particular library item has been borrowed, but it generally won't (and in my opinion should never) keep a record of who borrowed the item in the past. Frankly, the only time a name should be attached to an item record is if the person is currently borrowing the item.

    But I'm an old school privacy freak – and a librarian. FWIW.

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