[rohrpost] Thieves of the Invisible - Amazon Noir

Amazon Noir play at ubermorgen.com
Die Nov 21 17:50:09 CET 2006

Thieves of the Invisible

by Alessandro Ludovico vs. Paolo Cirio feat. UBERMORGEN.COM

We have stolen the invisible.

Amazon, the motherly bookseller, always sensitive to her customer  
needs like an affectionate friend, was outraged in her own intimate  
affects. Her most precious resource, an infinitely beautiful body of  
culture, able to mesmerize your eyes for hours, was somehow deprived  
and exposed, after we had eluded her copyright protection. Amazon had  
been a witty advisor to millions of happy customers, and had spent  
the last decade researching how to improve her service.
She had dedicated all her time and energy to building the best  
collection of purchasable culture possible. She never wasted her time  
investing in public mass advertising or in spamming the profiled  
potential new customer. All she counted on and needed to count on was  
the grand word of mouth that happy customers passed on one another.
That was a killer application – together with the software platform  
that made books the center of an interrelated universe. She started  
then to hyper-contextualize every piece of her inventory, researching  
the overlaps of tastes her happy customers kind of anonymously  
displayed. Furthermore, she incited customers to compile lists,  
review, comment, discuss and tag all books. But all her love was  
finally expressed in allowing users to peek into the inner side of  
her treasures: the original texts. She worked hard from the beginning  
and even if many were skeptical at first, she succeeded in realizing  
a new model: 'the imagined book', more real than the one you would  
look at in a physical bookstore. Now the customers got more motivated  
than ever, seeing their objects of desire not only described by their  
own technical details, but also by their many external references.
At this very moment, Amazon placed a gamble with the future. She did  
something no other bookseller had ever done before: She disembodied a  
substantial part of her books, thus filling a huge database (the  
literary correspondent of the music 'celestial jukebox'). By doing  
so, customers were able to text-search whole books ('Search Inside  
the Book' option, they called it) and then see the search results  
displayed within the respective paragraphs of the book searched. This  
provoked a global joy and ecstatic use, but exposed the nudity of the  
book to too many eyes. We, the Amazon Noir gang, were simply  
astounded and started to endlessly play with this umpteenth content toy.

So, we couldn't stop until we stole the invisible.

We couldn't resist her beauty. She was a beautiful rich body of  
culture, continuously unveiling her generous and attractive forms at  
request, but never saying: "Yes, you can take me away". This free  
cultural peep show started to drive us crazy. Many others were in the  
same condition, but reacted differently: crashed their computers and  
were never again online, or found another pay-per-view drug. Some of  
them described it "like being constantly titillated, regularly being  
asked for money in order to possess one of the too many physical  
bits". In fact adopted software doesn't give access to the whole  
content, but only to bits of it. Nevertheless, it is clear and  
understood to anybody that the whole content was 'there', behind a  
few mysterious clicks away. A cornucopia of texts, an astonishing  
amount of knowledge, a compelling body of culture, infinitely put on  
hold, for marketing reasons. So this virtual interface was a never- 
ending blinking to the disclosed magnificent beauty sold one bit a time.

Then we definitively stole the invisible.

We hacked the system, we built a malicious mechanism (Amazon Noir)  
able to stress the server software, getting back the entire books we  
wanted, at request. It was a question of creating a so-called  
'foolingware'. We actually think that in the future we will be  
remembered as the predecessor of 'foolingware', and now we feel  
guilty about that. So we started to collect piece by piece the  
yearned body of culture with increasing excitement and without a pause.

We wondered. What is the difference between digitally scanning the  
text of a book of yours, and obtaining it from Amazon Noir? There is  
no difference. It would be only discussed in terms of the amount of  
wasted time. We wanted to build our local Amazon, definitively  
avoiding the confusion of continuous purchasing stimuli.
So we stole the loosing and amusing relation between thoughts. We  
stole the digital implementation of synapses connections between  
memory, built by an online giant to amuse and seduce, pushing the  
user to compulsively consume.
We were thieves of memory (in a McLuhan sense), for the right to  
remember, to independently and freely construct our own physical  
memory. We thought we did not want to play forever under the peep- 
show unfavorable rules.

But we failed.

We failed and we were in the end corrupted, and we had to surrender  
to the copyright guardians.

We failed breaking into the protectionist economy.

We failed, because we wanted to share and give away.