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Posts tagged 1984

PEN America survey finds NSA surveillance most effective at stopping writers speak
December 24, 2013 | 12:28 pm

surveillanceI lived successively in two ostensibly free countries where self-censorship is prevalent:  Hong Kong, where concern over the authoritarian Big Brother next door drives many journalists to limit or moderate their statements on certain subjects; and Hungary, where an triumphalist and populist government has pushed many opposition voices into resurrecting old Warsaw Pact habits of watching their backs and curbing their tongues. I know from experience that it works. And now it seems the Land of the Free is going the same way. At least according to a survey, "Chilling Effects: NSA Surveillance Drives U.S. Writers to Self-Censor, conducted by...

The Revolt of the Books in Istanbul’s Taksim Square
July 2, 2013 | 12:10 pm

Taksim Square Book Club Reading books has become one of the main expressions of dissent in Turkey following the police clampdown on more active forms of protest against the increasingly autocratic government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Taksim Square Book Club, which convenes demonstrators in Istanbul's Taksim Square to publicly and silently read together, is generating some of the most iconic images of the continuing (passive) resistance, here courtesy of George Henton and Al-Jazeera. One of the favorite titles at the Book Club is George Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four," including the Penguin edition with the title erased that I complained about on TeleRead a while...

Post-PRISM “Nineteen Eighty-Four” sales spike points up Orwell’s split position
June 15, 2013 | 4:53 pm

PRISM One off-the-wall consequence of the sudden disclosures regarding the U.S. National Security Agency’s PRISM digital surveillance program earlier this week was the much-reported spike in sales of George Orwell’s "Nineteen Eighty-Four"—with Penguin Plume’s recent Centennial Edition up almost 7,000 percent on the Amazon Movers & Shakers list for Books, according to some sources. This level of interest proved to be more than just a flash in the pan. By Friday, "Nineteen Eighty-Four" was still in 18th place on the Amazon Movers & Shakers list for Books—although the Kindle edition was absent from the Top 100 Movers & Shakers or Best Sellers rankings on...

On privacy, and the use of our personal information
June 12, 2013 | 3:41 pm

privacyThere’s been lots in the news recently about this issue. The latest article I’ve seen was from All Things D about Google wanting permission to reveal how many FISA requests its received. I think this is a good time for us to be thinking about our information, how it's collected and what can be done with it. It’s our information, after all. Don’t we have some rights here? I think Google has some good points. Two relevant quotes from the article: "And, like so much else that’s considered too secret to discuss in this matter, it’s difficult to have an informed discussion about any...

Banned book trading cards earn prestigious award
April 26, 2013 | 10:00 am

The Lawrence (Kansas) Public Library found an innovative way to celebrate Banned Book Week last fall when it produced art trading cards. Lawrence Library picked seven books to put on its trading cards from 46 submissions. Books included 1984 (pictured), Animal Farm, and Little Red Riding Hood. The cards gained national attention, and they’re still receiving more. Lawrence Library became one of eight libraries to win a 2013 John Cotton Dana Award, which comes with a $10,000 award, the Lawrence Journal World reported. Locals got free packs, but the library sold others online and sent packs around the world, including to England, Canada and...

New Orwell cover designs obscure an Orwellian copyright saga
January 10, 2013 | 2:08 pm

Penguin Books, along with its seriously talented team of graphic designers, is making great play of its latest rebooting of the George Orwell franchise. Coverage from the Huffington Post to the Creative Review lauds Penguin’s brave and high-minded initiative to relaunch Orwell’s works with bold cover designs that recall the original Penguin editions—only, in the case of Nineteen Eighty-Four, with the title erased to signify censorship. Penguin Classics’ own website states: "In recognition of one of Britain’s greatest and most influential writers, Penguin Books, the Orwell Estate and The Orwell Prize are launching the inaugural ‘Orwell Day’ on 21st January with new editions of...

Amazon’s zapping of customer’s Kindle library shows why we need library-provided ‘content lockers’ (Updated)
October 22, 2012 | 10:54 am

What if Amazon wiped out all your Kindle books and refused to let you open another account? I don’t know what if any sins a customer committed, but such an Orwellian scenario is said to have actually happened. No, I’m not just talking about the remote deletion of 1984, but rather the mysterious zapping of the customer’s entire Kindle library. The most likely scenario here, as guessed at by BoingBoing, is that the Norwegian customer simply lived outside of the territories for authorized purchases. While I love content providers—I’m one myself—Amazon’s latest action shows why the Digital Public Library of America or another nonprofit needs to get into...

Banned Books Week celebrates 30 years of defiant reading
September 26, 2012 | 10:47 pm

If you've never read a book specifically in celebration of Banned Books Week, you might want to consider rectifying that situation this Sunday, September 30, when the 30th anniversary of the proud literary tradition officially kicks off. I can still remember (more or less) when I first learned about Banned Books Week: I was probably 11 or 12—Isaac Asimov and the Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature were my big obsessions at the time. A Banned Books Week poster was hanging on the wall outside my elementary school's library, and next to it was a glass case with shelves inside, and stacked on the...

Reader Privacy Under Threat in the Digital Age
September 2, 2012 | 1:09 pm

There was an interesting overview of reader privacy issues in this week's Guardian. I wonder if most e-book readers have given any thought to the issue. I bet it hasn't even crossed their minds that the customer profile Amazon or Kobo or Sony might have on them—detailing what they've purchased, and when—would be valuable to someone. And if they did see the value (I myself find Amazon's recommendations engine both useful and surprisingly accurate), I wonder if it's crossed their minds that this information could potentially be shared once Amazon has it. As the article points out: "Retailers and search engines, most notably Amazon...

Aldous Huxley writes to George Orwell about 1984
March 8, 2012 | 9:27 am

6812830962 1f5f8cc526 o Back in 2010 I mentioned the blog Letters of Note.  It's a blog that publishes letters, postcards, telegrams faxes and memos.  Now they have a fascinating letter from Aldous Huxley to Oeorge Orwell.  Here's what they say: In October of 1949, a few months after the release of George Orwell's dystopian masterpiece, Nineteen Eighty-Four, he received a fascinating letter from fellow author Aldous Huxley — a man who, 17 years previous, had seen his own nightmarish vision of society published, in the form of Brave New World. What begins as a letter of praise soon becomes a brief comparison of the two...

Gabe Newell’s class act, and e-book retailers’ lack thereof
July 28, 2010 | 7:15 am

I do realize this is an e-book blog, not a video gaming blog, but digital media do share a lot of commonalities—and Valve just keeps doing things that prompt me to draw direct comparisons to things e-book stores and publishers should be doing, but aren’t. Our sister blog Gamertell, which is a video gaming blog, has the details. Over the last two weeks, Valve’s game distribution platform Steam’s anti-cheating system mistakenly banned about 12,000 Steam accounts from playing Modern Warfare 2, for cheating. Steam’s system is simplistic, usually accurate, and there is no appeal—the only way to start playing a...

Wired calls for app store transparency
April 26, 2010 | 1:43 pm

Wired’s “Gadget Lab” writer Brian X. Chen has posted a call for transparency in the app store, in which he uses the recent rejection and subsequent approval of Mark Fiore’s political cartoon app to remind us that Apple still hasn’t come out with clear guidelines over what is and is not permissible in the app store. Until it does, Chen notes, journalists are always going to have a Sword of Damocles hanging over their heads, never being quite sure whether the next thing they write is going to bring it down on them. ...