Google Defeated; What Next?
**If you have no idea what in the hell is going on here or why this is important, please read or listen to this interview with Professor James Grimmelmann first**

So the largest threat to the freedom of publishing has been summarily dismantled by the Department of Justice and by Judge Denny Chin in Manhattan.

The Google Book Settlement, in its original form, has been deep-sixed. The good part about all this: "The Author's Guild" and Google were not able to squeeze a clandestine deal through the courts to get extra-special rights to all out-of-print literature.

The bad part about all this: lost, lonely, orphaned, out-of-print books still don't have a home on the internet. If no one can find the copyright holders for these books, then no one can make them available to the world at any price.

Still, the good news here outweighs the bad. Google will not be able to crush all other electronic publishing initiatives before they have a chance to grow.

Google will not be able to harvest massive amounts of metadata about people's reading habits and use this for other "search" projects. Google will also not be able to censor books by keeping them out of their database for unspecified reasons. Additionally, a more organic ebook marketplace will be dirtier, grittier, and more dangerous.

A far better climate for art.

However, Google is not the only threat to freedom of access on the internet.

While Google has stalled out on the back end, the two other big companies that have been making a play for ebook hegemony (Amazon and Apple) have implemented really irritating "gatekeeper" protocols for bringing new literature to the marketplace.

These protocols are far worse than the hurdles of conventional publishing, because they are crass and inelegant and are being implemented without a code or principles. They twist with wind.

We must become the wind.

There is no getting around the fight: Apple, Google, and Amazon must be hammered again and again by artists in America until they are totally compliant to the aims of art instead of the aims of political leaders and plutocrats.



-- Many different small publishing companies competing to create many different formats for text dissemination. This agony and panic will push boundaries day by day, leading to rapid mutation and evolution.

-- Further independence for the editing, design, and publicity arms of publishing. Authors must become more comfortable with hiring freelance editors, designers, and publicists. Ultimately, there will be no more "publishing" companies -- just editing companies, design companies, and publicity companies.

-- Further proliferation of on-demand printing and on-demand ebook conversion, creating instant interchangeability between books and ebooks.

-- A radical reconceptualizaion of the relationship between information and objects, leading to developments of new media in every sector.

-- Writers policing their own worlds, taking charge of "literature" instead of academics and hateful trust fund alcoholics. Writers writing reviews, making translations, offering recommendations, soliciting work, and helping each other find paying gigs.

-- Ejection of corporate interest from the world of letters. The sacrifice Money and pop "relevance." The gain? Guilt-free engagement with real problems. Corporations = soft targets that must be challenged, like the church once upon a time, or the state always.



We must not tacitly accept the idea that these companies have the right to control and censor the data that they sell.

But also...

We must not tacitly accept the idea that these companies are responsible for the ideas that are disseminated using their platforms.

We must be cold and have a plan. We must not be reactionary.

We must defend these companies when they are attacked for publishing controversial media.

We must attack these companies when they censor something because of shareholder fear.

In short, we must treat these corporations like spoiled children and hope that they grow into responsible adults.

What are their fears?

They are afraid of losing their customers because they are afraid that everything that they sell will someday be free. This is a fair fear. It does not concern us, but it is fair.

Whenever they can, these companies will offer impressive hardware in exchange for control over how this hardware is used and control over what content you can access.

This is exactly the same deal that conventional governments offer in exchange for daily submission. We must not do this deal.


The internet flourishes because it does not ask its citizens to be good, clean, or sane. The internet is a place where everyone is assumed, by default, to be mad, evil, and diseased. This may not be a better fake world, but it is certainly a necessary fake world.

The future that a company like Apple offers is the same future that we have all been trying to escape from by retreating to the internet in the first place.

No real human beings belong in Apple's future. It is a world only for machines.

Apple's acolytes are gentrifiers who do not want to integrate into the neighborhood, but who only want to vivisect and partition. They have a vision. It is a vision of chrome and white plastic. Clean, smooth Ken groins. No spurting dicks or throbbing cunts for Apple.

These gentrifiers walk through the neighborhood with furtive eyes and feverish foreheads, ignoring the cat calls and well-meaning jibes of the neighborhood gangs. Their silence invites necessary contempt and suspicion. They look at the mad, diseased, glorious internet and they can only tolerate it because they hope to burn it down one day.

The internet is our neighborhood.

It is a neighborhood without citizenship tests, taxes, or borders.

We must defend it every day by saying what we want and sharing what we say. We must defend it by being ungovernable, and by never placing unfathomable corporate agendas above our own instincts, lusts, dangerous ideas, and dreams.

Posted by miracle on Sun, 27 Mar 2011 20:41:16 -0500 -- permanent link

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