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E-Books That Read You 120

Posted by Soulskill
from the they-find-you-hackneyed-and-your-font-is-too-small dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Internet users have sadly grown used to having their every click and scroll measured by advertisers and content providers seeking to squeeze every last ounce of attention out of them. Now, it seems such data gathering is spreading into your favorite novels as well. The NY Times profiles several companies trying to collect data on how people read ebooks. Quoting: 'Scribd is just beginning to analyze the data from its subscribers. Some general insights: The longer a mystery novel is, the more likely readers are to jump to the end to see who done it. People are more likely to finish biographies than business titles, but a chapter of a yoga book is all they need. They speed through romances faster than religious titles, and erotica fastest of all. At Oyster, a top book is What Women Want, promoted as a work that "brings you inside a woman's head so you can learn how to blow her mind." Everyone who starts it finishes it. On the other hand, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.'s The Cycles of American History blows no minds: fewer than 1 percent of the readers who start it get to the end. Oyster data shows that readers are 25 percent more likely to finish books that are broken up into shorter chapters. That is an inevitable consequence of people reading in short sessions during the day on an iPhone.'"
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E-Books That Read You

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  • Not worried much (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wbr1 (2538558) on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @05:02PM (#45783491)
    I am far less concerned with research about how I read than information on what I read and who I share it with being given to those in power. How I read may make for better written, more useful tomes. Information on what I read can be misconstrued and misused. Unfortunately, what I read has been a matter of record since long before data on how I read.
  • Easy solution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @05:11PM (#45783519)

    Don't buy e-book readers that force you to be connected to the internet, or only read proprietary file formats, or buy from online store.

    My old Sony PRS-650 doesn't have hardware to go on the internet, and it reads whatever file I feed it, so I'm sure it doesn't snitch on me.

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @05:26PM (#45783593)

    Oh, and my reader's wifi, is never on.

    I don't mean to sound like I have a tinfoil hat on, but all you're sure of is that you have instructed the software to turn the wifi off. That doesn't mean the software doesn't lie to you and keeps trying to connect without telling you.

    Think I'm paranoid? Well, maybe I am, maybe I'm not [].

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @05:46PM (#45783695) Journal
    Phones, unfortunately, have really upped the game in terms of creepy surveillance and exfiltration.

    When dealing with normal computers, you always have the easy option of just installing wireshark.

    If that's too disruptive, or you want to monitor multiple systems, or you don't trust the system you want to inspect, you just tap the last link before the ISP's probably-not-trustworthy gear and examine that. Wireless doesn't change the game much, as long as you know the key (passive tapping becomes easier; but there's a greater risk that your monitoring system will miss some packets in the noise, and driver support for things like promiscuous mode tends to be a lot spottier).

    Cellular connections, though? The entire network is Ma Bell's black-box, so even RF sniffing won't get you much (unless you can coax it down to A5/1 or A5/2 and have some time on your hands), and doing the packet capture on-device is markedly harder than on a PC. At best, with a very well behaved android you should be able to use the same tools that you would on normal linux, against whatever peculiar device name is assigned to the cell connection. It's all downhill from there, though creative abuse of VPNs should work against any application not trying to hide from you, even on devices you can't root/jailbreak.

    It isn't impossible, with the right device; but you can certainly make things a great deal more difficult if your application waits until it is on a cellular connection before phoning home.
  • Re: Easy solution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by loufoque (1400831) on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @05:58PM (#45783753)

    You realize even the Amazon Kindle (supposedly the most evil device) does none of those things, right?
    I have one, have never connected it to the Internet, and all the ebooks I have were downloaded online.

  • Re:yeah (Score:3, Interesting)

    by davester666 (731373) on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @07:09PM (#45784157) Journal

    Actually, most internet users are not aware of how much their every click is tracked, by how many different companies, for any given web page.

  • by CODiNE (27417) on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @08:40PM (#45784669) Homepage

    I can't get wire shark reliably working with my wifi card, so here's how I sniff iphone app access.

    Share the wifi from the laptop, sniff the wired connection to the router. With enough playing around you can get filters for exactly what you're interested in. But for simple monitoring app access it's good enough.

    You wouldn't believe the stuff that gets sent around in plain text.

  • by knorthern knight (513660) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @12:58AM (#45785919)

    Could Slashdot please refuse to post stories that link to paywalled sites? BTW, I put some of the text from the summary into Google, and the first non-paywalled link that popped up was []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 26, 2013 @01:56AM (#45786127)

    capitalist America

    That'd be corporatist America, wouldn't it? Corporatism seems more like neo-feudalism than capitalism. I wonder by how much America's national debt would be reduced if large American corporations were unable to exploit tax havens to evade tax.

  • Re:Not worried much (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pepty (1976012) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @02:22AM (#45786217)

    I mind people mining data about me without paying me for it. I don't think it should automatically be illegal or regulated, but I'd like a "please" and a "here's your share of the loot". So how about:

    A company with a suite of applications that tracks everything you do and then:

    -spoofs the data other apps receive about you on your phone

    -deletes cookies, proxies your IP addresses and google searches, etc.

    -blocks all ads, etc.

    Basically makes you absolutely useless to everyone - unless they purchase your information from the company. advertisers can also pay to have their ads whitelisted. The company turns over 50% of the revenue to the users that allow tracking and selective blocking of ads.

    Only sharing revenue with users that register with an active mobile phone account, real residential address, and a $1 fee with via a credit card billed to the same address would cut down on farming of fake users. Google being willing, able, and strongly motivated to spend billions of dollars to crush the operation into dust might be a problem though.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @02:37AM (#45786279) Journal
    If you control the AP, tapping wireless is pretty much identical to tapping wired(whether your 'AP' is also the computer doing the tapping, running an adapter in ad-hoc or AP mode, or whether the computer doing the tapping is sniffing the AP's ethernet link). What makes me nervous is the possibility that (mostly likely out of malice) a phone app might deliberately avoid chatting on any interface except the cellular connection. Non-malicious apps (or malicious apps that assume you aren't paying attention) can presumably be forced over to wifi and sniffed like any computer; but something that maintains silence except when connecting through the cell network would be very hard to pin down.

    RF sniffing to establish the the existence of traffic isn't that hard (doesn't everyone seem to own a set of cheap speakers that provides that 'feature' for free?); but anything more than very rough estimates of traffic volume would be orders of magnitude more difficult than anything running over your network...

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. -- F. Brooks, "The Mythical Man-Month"