Amazon Doesn’t Consider the Race of Its Customers. Should It? - Bloomberg This is a logical approach from a cost and efficiency perspective: Give areas with the most existing paying members priority access to a new product. Yet in cities where most of those paying members are concentrated in predominantly white parts of town, a solely data-driven calculation that looks at numbers instead of people can reinforce long-entrenched inequality in access to retail services. For people who live in black neighborhoods not served by Amazon, the fact that it’s not deliberate doesn’t make much practical difference.
I have a copy of Amazon. Meaning that, on my hard drive there is a massive chunk of Amazon’s product and reviews database—a listing of nine million or so products and 80 million or so reviews taken from 1996 to 2014. The names of all the books in that chunk, their sales ranks, their categories. Every pair of pants for kids, every sock. All the books about Hitler; all the books about snakes. All the different Lego sets. Whatever.
Since he started Akkord (s/t album playlist) with Synkro, Liam Blackburn has been in search of a sound. His last few solo releases skirted past drum & bass through to techno, ambient, IDM and, with 2013's excellent Storm, some sort of ultra-hi-tech jungle.... [H]e's re-emerging as Ancestral Voices on the increasingly out-there label Samurai Horo....The debut album for Blackburn's new alias is "yawning chords, complex drum patterns and existential dread," directly inspired by his mind-expanding, life-altering experiences on Machu Picchu and in the Amazon, and you can hear all of Night Of Visions on Bandcamp.
Vice's Noisey compiled the most important list of the year: 2015's Biggest Albums Rated By 1-Star Amazon Reviewers. [more inside]
Eagles Of Death Metal have announced their Play It Forward fundraising campaign for victims of and families of victims of the Paris terrorist attacks of Nov 13. Artists of all musical genres are encouraged to cover EODM's song I Love You All The Time and offer it up for purchase, with all proceeds going toward this fund. So far, a wide variety of musicians have contributed covers, and more are expected. Pearl Jam is also offering a 7" single. Music can help heal the world, or at least help support those affected by senseless violence.
"That night, Soloway sat in the bathtub, while her husband, Bruce Gilbert, a music supervisor for film and television, brushed his teeth. She remembers telling him, “ ‘I don’t want to use the money to pay off our debt. I want to be a director, and I want to make a film with it and get into Sundance. I want to double down on me.’ And Bruce was, like, ‘O.K.’ ” Then, just as Soloway was making the leap to directing her own material, her father called one afternoon and came out as transgender." (SL New Yorker)
After 18 years in operation, after a federal law mandating that hospitals work to prevent needle-stick, and after two successful lawsuits resulting in BD paying more than $400 million for violating anti-monopoly statutes, Retractable Technologies made only $34 million in global sales last year. BD, with an inferior, more expensive product, sold $8.4 billion, the payouts to its competitor serving only as the cost of doing business. In 2000, the Centers for Disease Control estimated 380,000 needle-sticks at hospitals every year. Today, they estimate 385,000. “You turn on the TV and watch politicians talk about unleashing the power of the free market, that’s absurd,” Shaw says. “The American public is being denied a free market, being denied competition.”We need a new antitrust for a new predatory era.
So Amazon opened a new bookstore, and Paul Constant covered it for the Seattle Review of Books and ended up writing an eloquent defense of independent bookstores. [more inside]
You were taught in school that the rain forest is like the lungs of our planet.
It’s not that simple.
It’s not that simple.
"'I just thought I’d ask in case you had it in the back somewhere' the customer explained. They did not have it in the back somewhere." Former bookseller Dustin Kurtz visits Amazon's new bricks-and-mortar bookstore.
Do you know Dagny Taggart? She's a character in Atlas Shrugged. She's also a best selling author of language learning ebooks on Amazon. According to her bio, she speaks 15 languages, which she picked up in her life of traveling the world. There's just one problem: the author Dagny Taggart doesn't exist. She is the pen name for a group of anonymous authors who were hired by an Argentine "Amazon entrepreneur" and a follower of k(indle) money get rich schemes. [more inside]
The Life and Death of an Amazon Warehouse Temp: What the future of low-wage work really looks like. "In the years since Amazon became the symbol of the online retail economy, horror stories have periodically emerged about the conditions at its warehouses—workers faced with near-impossible targets, people dropping on the job from heat or extreme fatigue. This isn’t one of those stories." (SLHuffPost)
Amazon Reviewer #1, Harriet Klausner (previously) has passed away at age 63. At the time of her death she had over 31,000 reviews to her name, none of them negative.
Amazon has posted (on Medium, natch) an aggressive response to the “everyone at Amazon is miserable but also paid well but also crying all the time” story in the New York Times [Previously]. This story and its aftermath represent a bit of a trap, particularly in discussions on Twitter: If you think the original story contained both valuable information and flaws, your default position is to go to bat for the Times; if you read this story as a portrait of a tough workplace written to cast it in the worst possible light, but acknowledge that it contained some worrying anecdotes, then your tendency will be to defend Amazon.
But these too reveal themselves as proxy positions. It’s not story versus story, or publication versus tech company. It’s media versus tech. [more inside]
But these too reveal themselves as proxy positions. It’s not story versus story, or publication versus tech company. It’s media versus tech. [more inside]
How Ted Benson hacked Amazon Dash (the $5 WiFi enabled single product order button) to track baby data.
"The company is conducting an experiment in how far it can push white-collar workers to get them to achieve its ever-expanding ambitions."
You have about 5 to 10 seconds of coherence (barely) after contact, and after that, your only concern is pain. Even with my prior experience, I was completely incapacitated. If I were an earnest attacker, this would deter my attack immediately. My wife is not a trained combatant, and she hit me with a glancing spray across my cheek and that was enough to stop me. (Ideally one would draw a line from ear to ear for max. effect) Amazon.com reviewers' pepper spray stories are painful and hilarious to read.
The fans of Mad Max: Fury Road have discovered Amazon.com's listing for Winton Silver Color Mist. [more inside]
"The Matsés Traditional Medicine Encyclopedia marks the first time shamans of an Amazonian tribe have created a full and complete transcription of their medicinal knowledge written in their own language and words. One of the intentions is to stall Biopiracy and at the same time preserve knowledge which up to now was passed orally.
Peter was surprised to find that vampires actually aren't all that popular, either, as fetishes go. Apparently, they're more of a flash-in-the-pan, while werewolves are a stolid, reliable source of salable smut. "I had assumed that vampires would be popular, but werewolves -- they're the sexy ones. They've been sexy for decades. It's because they're so big and muscley and out of control."For Cracked, Robert Evans interviews Peter Hayward aka Pandora Box about his career writing female orientated Kindle fetish porn. That is, fetish porn produced for the Kindle, not fetish porn about the Kindle
"What’s compression in the first place? At its most basic, compression is a way of representing data using less space. An emoji is a good metaphor: it represents an entire word or even several words using a single character. Our minds then 'decompress' the character back into the word it represents.I Hacked the Middle-Out Compression from 'Silicon Valley' - Alexander Gould, Major League Hacking (Silicon Valley is on FanFare)
"When hackers see a magical plot-driving compression algorithm, it’s hard to chalk it up as simply a narrative device. After all, universal lossless compression sounds pretty sweet. So, at a recent hackathon, I decided to get to the bottom of middle-out compression."
going to the store buying things online is such a chore. First there was the monolith to put on your coffee table and allow to listen to everything you say. Now comes Amazon's most aggressive move yet towards frictionless purchasing: logo-emblazoned physical buttons that buy things. Plus an SDK that makes your other things buy things, without your input. [more inside]
The Shut-In Economy The dream of on-demand, delivery everything is splitting tech-centered cities into two new classes: shut-ins and servants.
Did Amazon Sink the Queen of Online Erotica? - Phoebe Reilly, Vulture
"Engler is an underappreciated pioneer, a self-proclaimed feminist in furry-cat slippers. To put her crowning achievement demurely, she challenged the book-publishing industry's denial of women's appetite for sexually explicit books. She wrote tawdry, lowbrow novels, and published hundreds of others, that freed romance from its lame euphemisms well before Fifty Shades of Grey, and she did so in a digital format long before the Kindle and the iPad allowed e-books to flourish.
"To put it less demurely: There were readers out there, lots of them, who didn't want to read about thick manroots. They wanted hard cocks. So that's what Ellora's Cave gave them. Easily and often."
Amazon's Mechanical Turk has become an important tool for social science research, but a fascinating piece by PBS Newshour discusses why this might be a problem, with a great profile of professional survey takers, who average hundreds, even thousands of social science surveys each. This is not just idle speculation, recent research [PDF] shows that experienced Turkers no longer have typical "gut reactions" to social experiments, creating a struggle with how to deal with non-naivete [PDF]. Take a look at the questions that professional Tukers are asked the most, and be sure to take the survey in the middle of the first article! [more inside]
When Hugo Lucitante was a boy, his tribe sent him away to learn about the outside world so that, one day, he might return and save their village. Can he live up to their hopes? [more inside]
Wire: Dear RadioShack, This Is Why We Adored You. Love, WIRED. "The time is near to bid farewell to that old security blanket, RadioShack. When the remote control broke, it was there. When we needed a cable or 20, it was there. But soon, it won’t be. The company is about to file for bankruptcy. Shares of its stock have been suspended from trading. We are forced to acknowledge that the era of personal electronics championed by the franchise stores that sold soldering gear and robots and had a Battery of the Month Club is really and truly over." [more inside]
Amazon’s disruption of the traditional publishing model is well-documented. Self-published authors on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited are seeing their incomes plummet by as much as 75%. Citizen-reviewers have wrested the reins of criticism from established newspaper and magazine critics, much to authors’ dismay. But one writer found online reviewing a way to reclaim her identity as a writer—even if she was reviewing a crappy mattress purchase on Amazon. How A Bad Amazon Review Totally Changed My Career. [more inside]
Amazon has worked diligently on improving its product delivery process. Same-day delivery is pretty standard now in parts of the country where they have closer distribution centers. They have also implemented lockers for pickup and have been working on developing a delivery method by remote control. In Manhattan, they have now implemented a one-hour delivery service for $7.99 (and two-hour delivery is free). Coming soon to a city near you. [more inside]
James O. Thach has an amazing array of life experiences, as proven through remarkable Amazon reviews. Here he is proving his conservative bona fides as he pronounces Ann Coulter's newest book "a steaming cauldron of truth"; waxing rhapsodic on cardamom, "nectar of the gods, breath of the immortals"; and researching penguins with only a Justin Bieber Singing Toothbrush for company.
On Wed Nov 19, 2014, in an awards ceremony emceed by Daniel Handler-aka-Lemony Snicket, Ursula K. Le Guin gave "the most ferocious speech ever given at the National Book Awards." Le Guin's acceptance speech for the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters touched on the Amazon vs Hachette throwdown and the practice of art in an age of capitalism. Video. Transcription.
Right now, I think we need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. The profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable; so did the divine right of kings.
At this point I believe it might be better to dump the container of smartphones into the ocean than to dump them onto the Ebola emergency response. The leader of UNICEF's innovation unit explains why Amazon's offer to donate unsold Fire phones to West Africa will likely cause more harm than good.
Warehouse Empire Behind the largest undercover bribe the FBI ever paid to a public official is the story of how our whole consumer economy has been transformed, bringing lung-stunting pollution and, in some cases political corruption.
The Webpage FX blog compiled a list of 13 internet "firsts," from the first email sent (1971) and the first spam, sent out to 400 people (1978), to the first photo posted online (1992) and much later, the first Instagram photo, (2010).
Between the limited amount of titles on streaming services and the fact that Netflix seems to be shifting away from DVDs altogether, are you just out of luck if you want to watch a non-blockbuster like "Sweet Sweetbacks' Baadasssss Song" or "Raising Arizona"? KQED investigates.
Amazon's formula for literary success is, as far as I can deduce: Write as many books as you can, and then sell them cheaply and in bulk. Even though none of my books has sold more than 15,000-ish copies, Amazon continues to pay me to write them. The idea is that eventually one of my efforts will hit, and then the backlist will rise. I'm a writer, and my experience with this supposedly evil corporate behemoth has been fantastic.
The Tick is a big, blue, nigh-invulnerable, possibly brain-damaged super-hero created by Ben Edlund in 1986. He has appeared in comic books (1988), animated TV (1994), and live action TV (2001). According to The Wrap, Patrick Warburton has worked out a deal with Sony to create a new Tick pilot for Amazon.
Inside Google's Secret Drone Delivery Programme The Australian test flight and 30 others like it conducted in mid-August are the culmination of the first phase of Project Wing, a secret drone program that’s been running for two years at Google X, the company’s whoa-inducing, long-range research lab.
Some pretty big names are wading into the Amazon waters with a group of new instant video pilots debuting today. Marc Forster ("World War Z") directed Hand of God, "a psychological drama about a morally corrupt judge who suffers a breakdown and believes God is compelling him onto a path of vigilante justice"; David Gordon Green ("George Washington," "Pineapple Express") helmed Red Oaks, "a coming-of-age comedy set in the 'go-go' 80s about a college student enjoying a last hurrah before summer comes to an end--and the future begins"; Whit Stillman ("Metropolitan") turns in The Cosmopolitans, "a dramatic comedy about a group of young American expats in Paris searching for love and friendship and an ocean of distance from their past"; and Jay Chandrasekhar ("Super Troopers") is responsible for Really, "a funny, honest, behind-the-curtain look at the psychological and emotional complexities of marriage and the charged dynamics of a tight-knit group of friends grasping on to what's left of their youth." There's also Otto Bathurst's Hysteria, "an investigative thriller about a haunted young doctor who is summoned back to her hometown to investigate an epidemic that may be linked to social media - and her own tragic past." User reviews determine which pilots get picked up for series.
Victor Gama is a self-taught composer and musician who has expanded his process of composing music for himself and others to perform into creating new or modified instruments, and is also involved with traveling to hard to access regions of Angola and recording local music, as documented on his website Tsikaya: Músicos do Interior. You can read an outstanding interview of Victor with Ned Sublette for Afropop, or read more on his creation of instruments as part of his creative process, or you can experience his performances on YouTube and his music on Soundcloud. [more inside]
Best Selling author Douglas Preston, along with 907 other authors, signed a letter that ran as a double full-page ad in yesterday’s print edition of the New York Times, asking Amazon to stop blocking or delaying the sale of books on their site as a tactic to lower the e-book prices that Amazon is charged by the publisher Hachette.* The three month dispute between Hachette and Amazon previously prompted a response by Amazon’s self-published authors and readers, but it took an odd turn Saturday night when Amazon posted this letter on a site called ReadersUnited.com, after sending it as an email to all of its Kindle Direct Publishing authors. In that letter they include Hachette’s CEO’s email, and have asked their KDP authors to write to Hachette’s CEO telling him what they think about cheaper ebooks. [more inside]
Amazon announced today a service called Kindle Unlimited, giving access to over 600,000 books and audiobooks (on any device) for $.9.99/month. There are other services similar that exist (like Scribd and Oyster), but Amazon may have an advantage with its audio service. Is it worth it? Perhaps if you are in the habit of buying more than the average five books per year. In any case, there's a 30 day free trial "so you can test your binge-reading capabilities before committing to pay for the service."
For 350 years Manaus has stood sentinal at the dramatic Meeting of the Waters, where the dark Rio Negro and the sandy Rio Solimões (or the Upper Amazon) meet to form the headwaters of the Amazon River. [more inside]
This Internet Millionaire Has a New Deal For You
So there sat Bezos at the breakfast table, faced with a question for which he was apparently unprepared. Many painful seconds passed without an answer. Rutledge let the pause lengthen as long as he could bear it and was just about to tell his host to forget it, when Bezos finally spoke. He looked down at his plate. Bezos had ordered a dish called Tom’s Big Breakfast, a preparation of Mediterranean octopus that includes potatoes, bacon, green garlic yogurt, and a poached egg. “You’re the octopus that I’m having for breakfast,” Rutledge remembers Bezos saying. “When I look at the menu, you’re the thing I don’t understand, the thing I’ve never had. I must have the breakfast octopus.” Not until Rutledge had returned to Dallas and related the story to his anxious employees—now Amazon’s employees—did he realize just how absurd that explanation sounded. Before it can be eaten, generally, the breakfast octopus must be killed.
Monopoly is back: Barry Lynn on the concentration of American economic power — and how we can restore fairness. Highlights: [more inside]