[rohrpost] Thieves of the Invisible - 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.