Monday News: Amazon, ownership, Decoration Day, and RIP Chris Cornell
Amazon Just Opened Another Brick and Mortar Book Store . The World Shrugged – So this article from Inc. points out that Amazon’s new bookstore isn’t a whole lot of new. And yet, Amazon’s alleged mission of trying to rule the commerce world may still be moving forward. Publishers Weekly reports that Amazon’s new weekly bestseller lists reveal that Amazon published books are doing comparatively better, which may reveal some of the wisdom in posting the lists, as success tends to build on itself. Which, of course, is also a pretty old idea.
Rather than break the mold in terms of design, the company’s latest venture into real-life retail looks pretty much like you’d expect a bookstore to look, with gentle lighting, tables full of suggested titles, and quietly browsing patrons.
Of course, this being Amazon, there are innovative touches. The store is entirely cashless. Shoppers use their phones to check prices and then check themselves out at self-serve kiosks. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you get the same price as you’d pay online. Non-members pay the full retail price. – Inc.
BOOK REVIEW: THE END OF OWNERSHIP – Yes, DRM is really that bad, and it’s bad for all of us. Why? Because it is helping to speed up the shift away from public IP rights that help maintain a balance between ownership and innovation, between creator’s rights and corporate control.
In The End of Ownership: Personal Property in the Digital Age, Aaron Perzanowski and Jason Schultz walk us through a detailed and highly readable explanation of exactly how we’re losing our rights to own and control our media and devices, and what’s at stake for us individually and as a society. The authors carefully trace the technological changes and legal changes that have, they argue, eroded our rights to do as we please with our stuff. Among these changes are the shift towards cloud distribution and subscription models, expanding copyright and patent laws, Digital Rights Management (DRM), and use of End User License Agreements (EULAs) to assert all content is “licensed” rather than “owned.” And Perzanowski and Schultz present compelling evidence that many of us are unaware of what we’re giving up when we “buy” digital goods. . . .
The authors repeatedly remind us that who makes the decision between what is owned and what is licensed is crucial – both on the individual and societal scale. When we allow companies to define when we can own our stuff, through EULAs or Digital Rights Management, we shift crucially important decisions about how our society should work away from legislatures, courts, and public processes, to private entities with little incentive to serve our interests. And, when we don’t know exactly what we give up when we “buy” digital goods, we’re not making an informed choice. Further, when we opt for mere access over ownership, our choices have broader societal effects. The more we shift to licensing and subscription models, the more it may become harder for those who would rather own their stuff to exercise that option – stores close, companies shift distribution models, and some works disappear from the market.- Electronic Frontier Foundation
Decoration Day and Dinner on the Ground – I became familiar with Sarah Troop on Twitter via medical historian Lindsey Fitzharris, and if you are interested in cultural attitudes toward disease and death, I encourage you to check both of them out. In anticipation of Memorial Day, Troop posted a link to her 2014 blog post on the origin of Memorial Day, via the black community in 1865 Charleston, who honored many of those who died during the Civil War. As Troop notes, this link is not widely recognized, although she does provide at least one historical resource in her post, Alan and Karen Singer Jabbour’s 2010 Decoration day in the Mountains: Traditions of Cemetery Decoration in the Southern Appalachians. As Troop explains,
During the war, Confederate soldiers had converted the Washington Race Track into a jail for Union soldiers. Here, approximately 260 Union soldiers died from disease and exposure and were buried in a mass grave on the grounds.
The black community in Charleston reinterred the dead and constructed around the newly formed cemetery, a white-washed fence and an archway at the entry to the grounds. On it, they painted the words, “Martyrs of the Racecourse.” When this noble work was finally completed, a parade was held with some 10,000 in attendance. Leading the way were almost 3,000 children, their small arms heavy with bouquets of flowers which they placed over each grave as they passed. Several preachers delivered addresses and the children sang American the Beautiful as well as a number of spirituals. The cemetery was formally dedicated to the dead, then family and friends dispersed to various places around they cemetery and had what may have been the first, formal instance of a Dinner on the Ground – a ritual meal held in the cemetery as part of the proceedings. – Nourishing Death
Large Choir Sings “Black Hole Sun”: A Moving Tribute to Chris Cornell – This is just so beautiful and sad and beautiful. Did I say beautiful? Just have the tissues handy.