With Special Offers

by Matt Cholick

The price drop that came with Amazon's Fire launch coupled with the new ability to borrow library books has me reconsidering a Kindle. I do have a Nook, but it doesn't work all that well for pure reading. This didn't surprse me; I bought it to play around with Android rather than read books. E Ink really is a neccesity for comfortable reading.

They didn't have the 'special offers' version last time I checked out the device though. I was vaguely aware of it (Penny Arcade broke the news in my feeds) but I hadn't really investigated it.

After looking into the device it reminds me a lot of Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age.

"...one of the hazards of living in a world filled with mediatrons was that conversations were always being interrupted in this way, and that explained why Atlantans tried to keep mediatronic commodities to a minimum. Go into a thete’s house, and every object had moving pictures on it, everyone sat around slackjawed, eyes jumping from the bawdy figures cavorting on the mediatronic toilet paper to the big-eyed elves playing tag in the bathroom mirror to..."

He paints a picture of a world where luxury is not having one's senses constantly assaulted. It's a stretch today, of course, but not for lack of will. Science fiction is always great for taking a contemporary theme and building it to its extreme. Before a trip to Vegas this spring I never would have imagined mobile animated ad trucks. Our outdoor environment really isn't far from what he describes. Television was the first beachhead into our homes, and now this device is following.

This is slightly tangential, but I saw an interesting Ted Talk on public spaces in architecture and how the definition of space is a language speaking to the people inhabiting it. The common theme, here, is that your environment tells you who you are. It helps to define you. What then, is the effect, when your environment is trying to sell you stuff? What is the effect when every device in your home does the same? Given that every advertisement tries to convince you that your life lacks something and the product should fill that void, such an environment sure isn't positive.

Though I might buy a Kindle, Amazon, I sure won't be getting one with special offers. I'm unwilling to sell myself for to get a $30 discount.