This review was first published by Booklist on May 1, 2021.
Modern knowledge infrastructure is a fractured complex of filter bubbles, tracking our every move across platforms, websites, and apps, gathering our personal data to sell to the highest bidders. To understand how this came to be, Lankes studied the origins of knowledge systems from the time of the world wars through the twentieth century. Most of our communication systems and technology were designed to be weaponized in response to wartime threats. Propaganda, manipulation, and ubiquitous surveillance are built in as data analysis is optimized for the cold calculations of war. These tools weren’t intended for commerce or entertainment, and certainly not to protect the privacy of users. But these are precisely the features businesses and designers use to capture attention and increase profits. Lankes argues for more humanist values to redesign our knowledge infrastructure: policies and systems that prioritize privacy and give users control of personal data, intellectual property rights that better serve the common good, and nuanced data analysis instead of algorithmic dataism. Lankes’ historical perspective is compelling and his arguments convincing.
On a deeper level, I’d like to see more longitudinal studies done on information comprehension and retention when reading ebooks, as well as direct neurological mapping of ebook reading vs. print. I’m curious to know how our pre- and sub-conscious minds deal with the physical differences in the delivery mechanisms. Continue reading “Thoughts on the True Nature of Ebooks”→
Ebook services for libraries don’t carry any really controversial or potentially dangerous stuff anyway. Ereaders are for fluff – all the data shows that pretty much no one uses them for serious reading or scholarship. There’s no real danger in exposing ebook lending records because there’s nothing there to get patrons in trouble in the first place. Continue reading “Again with the Ebooks & Online Library Services & Patron Privacy”→
I’ve never actually checked out an ebook from my library. So the other week, when I was asked to help a patron check out an ebook for her Kindle, I was taken aback when we reached the step where she was required to sign in to Amazon using her personal Amazon ID. This step raises an important question:
My library has been researching the SirsiDynix® Social Library app for Facebook. While there appears to be incredible potential in such social media-based library apps (friend recommendations, reviews, wish-lists, in-platform catalog interactions), for me it raises some serious concerns about patron data and privacy.