Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Free Speech - Well, That Didn't Last Long

If you're interested in freedom of speech, (a relatively new political innovation and quite valuable to us,) then you need to be interested in the e-book reader war. Note that so far every e-book reader includes a way to delete books, either (as Amazon proved) remotely deleted without warning, or with the Sony, by expiring content after a specific time.  Whether they tell you that time or not.

Neither inspires confidence in me for my freedom of speech, because at least when one published a book in the past, one could be sure that the person buying it would still have that book, barring gross mishandling, fire, or rising damp, for the next decade or even century.  Now, one can't even be sure someone who pays money for one's book will still have it the following day.

No help if one wrote a self-extracting e-book for an iPhone - there's every chance it won't even make it into the App Store.  And don't even get started on the stumbling-blocks thrown up if one was writing a text-to-speech application for the book or producing it as an audiobook...

Freedom of speech is a powerful thing, a power we should not lightly let slip away.  Support the most open e-book readers where possible, and hopefully that gesture will be seen as what it is, a protest against censorship.  Only a government that doesn't trust its people removes their defenses and tightly controls the information it allows that people access to.  In this case, the word "government" can also be replaced by "multinational" and the word "people" with the word "customers."

Remember to keep the bastards honest!


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