The end of last week was full of mansplaining. The beginning of this week is not much more happy-making, since the stories that caught my eye were about politics and privacy and the increasing lack of the latter. But hang in there, it gets better toward the end.
First, the New York Times published a creepy, creepy story about how the political campaigns are using the data-mining techniques of advertising and search sites to get voters who are likely to vote for them to the polls. They insist that they aren’t using invasive techniques, but after reading the whole article I can only say, are you kidding me?
The Obama and Romney campaigns, as well as affiliated groups, have asked their supporters to provide access to their profiles on Facebook and other social networks to chart connections to low-propensity voters in battleground states like Colorado, North Carolina and Ohio.
When one union volunteer in Ohio recently visited the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s election Web site, for instance, she was asked to log on with her Facebook profile. Computers quickly crawled through her list of friends, compared it to voter data files and suggested a work colleague to contact in Columbus. She had never spoken to the suggested person about politics, and he told her that he did not usually vote because he did not see the point.
“We talked about how if you don’t vote, you’re letting other people make choices for you,” said the union volunteer, Nicole Rigano, a grocery store employee. “He said he had never thought about it like that, and he’s going to vote this year. It made a big difference to know ahead of time what we have in common. It’s natural to trust someone when you already have a connection to them.”
There is nothing illegal in this, but it certainly reinforces my decision to refrain from contributing to election campaigns. It further strengthens my determination never to avoid as much as possible visiting politician’s sites. These campaigns don’t care about whether you vote. They care about whether you vote for their candidates. A pox on all of them.
Also in the New York Times, David Carr has a great piece on the drawing power of the debates and why so many viewers tuned in. He argues in part that it’s because the debates are live. It says something about today’s world that we used to complain that the debates were formulaic and lacked spontaneity. Now people turn to them because they’re unscripted and feel more real than most of the barrage of managed information we get.
Enough of politics. Next up, Amazon introduces a new Kindle, the Paperwhite, and quietly retires an old one, the DX. The DX was always the odd duck in the Kindle pond, since it cost a fortune and didn’t get upgraded much. I have one, which I acquired in my endless search for the perfect pdf reader. It’s mostly collecting dust now because the iPad works better as a reader, but I’m still sad to see the model go because there should be an e-ink reader that lets you read pdfs comfortably.
As for the Paperwhite, TheHusband quite likes his. But not everyone is so happy. The Verge notes that customers have been complaining about the lack of audio, reduced memory, and uneven light disperson. Amazon has chosen to take the “we planned it that way” approach in responding to its customers:
Kindle Paperwhite is the best Kindle we’ve ever made by far, but there are certain limitations and changes from prior generations that we want you to know about.
Thank you, and we hope you enjoy Kindle Paperwhite.
I agree with the Verge’s conclusion that Amazon is removing features that might make it compete with its tablets, like audio. I can’t complain about it because my Nook Glow doesn’t have audio either. But it does have a micro-SD card slot, so running out of memory isn’t an issue.
Next, Nate at The Digital Reader linked to a story about one of my favorite comic strip artists, Stephan Pastis. I am not a big comics person, but I love Pearls Before Swine almost as much as TheHusband does (he is a devout reader of the funny papers). Pastis is more optimistic than I expected about the future of syndicated comics in print, which is good to hear, but my favorite line was about his take on his characters:
Pearls has been a mainstay of newspapers for more than a decade, offering trenchant commentary on human foibles through its large cast of talking animals ranging from the naive Pig to the idiotic alligator Larry to the eternally sleazy Rat, Pastis’ favorite. “I’ve always liked writing for Rat,” Pastis says. “He’s the voice that’s closest to mine. If I had my way, there would be a lot more Rat, and the strip would be a lot less popular.”
If you haven’t read Pearls, the strip is available here. I’ll warn you in advance: Pig may break your heart.
Finally, I don’t usually do book recommendations here at the VM. But today is the release day for the sequel to one of my favorite romance novels ever , Tigers and Devils. I’ve raved about T&D all over the place, including here, and I never thought there would be a sequel. And neither did the author, I understand. But there is! And it’s terrific! It’s called Tigerland, and you can either buy it at the publisher’s site or download it from Amazon (US).
I’ve also been sucked back into the world of audiobooks and will try to write something about that soon. Have a great week, everyone.