The tiny little ripple in the great commercial body that is the Macmillan/AAAARG.org dispute, that forced the academic text file sharing site AAAARG.org to host all its files on external links, dispersing them into the aethersphere, is likely related to the headlong clash between Kindle and iPad, the two great Beta vs. VHS mediums for the future of books – Is anyone going to read anymore?!, people worry. Not only are people going to read, and what they read ON what, for how much $ are dynamic and powerful questions that will shape the habitus of future generations. Sub Specie Aeterni agrees that this Kindle v. iPad and Macmillan v. AAAArg.org business is something pay attention to. And I post here my comment at the end because writing it is what lead to me writing this post:
I do think that it is worth taking this seriously – I wonder who is doing so other than those immediately involved with AAAARG.org. This is the very “stuff” of access and distribution, the kind of stuff that shapes the rivers of money and thought, the kind of stuff that changes things in unpredictable and longterm ways (not always bad).
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I do have a real problem with the commercialization of academic thought (the phrase almost makes me laugh, as academic thought is so highly commercialized it isn’t even funny). It’s not that thinking from the academy should be some kind of independent, disinterested pursuit, but rather that the economic structures that drive tuition payments, and bloat universities and colleges, especially in America, are so out of joint in terms of values, its a bloody catastrophe. That folks, no doubt because they have bought hook line and sinker into the myth of personal embetterment and social duty, have mortgaged their futures to mountains of debt and servitude is something akin to the proportions that preceded the latest financial crisis. That the class of these folks, people who want to read about stuff like “the difference between the ontological and the ontic” or “interpellation” – hearing that call, have to be further corralled and squeezed is pretty much ridiculous.
We know what the point is. Just like how fantastic medical procedures and medicines would never be invented if it were not for the promise of all sorts of financial windfalls and exploitations waiting on the other end, so too, so many marvelous technological means of communicating and publishing – not to mention so many fantastic theories being written, would never come about if there were not the pot of gold at the end of that rainbow. But can’t we say that there is something else to writing, reading and education than these kinds of games of more, faster, better and $$$?
The minds of the future lie within the Kindle v iPad wars, the habits of our thinking, our cups of coffee, and our licking of the page turning. The nice thing about technology, it always does MORE, it lets not only the cat, but its fleas and its dreams out of the bag. As Macmillan attacks file sharing in order to secure as much leverage as it can in its battle with Kindle and Amazon, the frayed hem edge of our complexity is showing. We must also reflect upon the fact that “We demand more content, faster (cheaper)!” is what is behind many of our complaints when file-sharing is restricted, a demand worth inspecting.