The Downside of Digital Technology

Kindle owner Amazon is being sued by two owners of the e-book after the Internet retailer remotely deleted George Orwell’s 1984, which they had downloaded to their reader.

Amazon did the right thing, in that they had discovered that there were copyright issues with them having the book, so the pulled it. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has apologised profusely, going as far to say, “Our ‘solution’ to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles,” Bezos wrote to customers. “It is wholly self-inflicted, and we deserve the criticism we’ve received. We will use the scar tissue from this painful mistake to help make better decisions going forward, ones that match our mission.”

This has not appeased the two people who have brought the suit, because in one case at least, it was required reading for a school assignment, and they had made notes, which were rendered useless by the deletion of the book.

What interests me in this case is how technology can sometimes have a downside. If they had bought a real-life, tangible book, then they would not have had this problem.

A similar example is the iPod. If you use iTunes to download music to your iPod on one computer, you can’t do the same on another computer. This is to stop you going to a friend’s place and downloading his or her songs for free. In fact, if you try and do so, it will wipe your iPod clean of the songs you already have on the portable music player.

While I can see the point of view with regard to copyright, I guess what I’m trying to get at is this; although technology by far and away has some great benefits, it can also have some very annoying side effects.