The Amazon.com kindle is just one of many e-readers flooding the market currently. The e-reader technology is having as profound an effect on the book publishing industry, the likes of which have not been seen since the invention of the printing press. Authors will leverage this paradigm shift to self publish. There will be a lot of book sharing between people. In effect, this will do to books what the Ipod did to music. And although the music industry will cry foul and that people are stealing copyrighted material, the result will be that more people than ever will read on a regular basis. In fact, these e-readers will be the final enabler for people to sell serial stories on a mass basis for the first time. Once publishers and authors adjust to this new paradigm, they will make even more money than ever!
Well so much for speculations about the publishing business. But something that you have to be aware of is the amount of information that companies like Amazon glean from your e-reader habits. Likely you already know that they use the titles that you purchase to figure out what to recommend to you. Most people would just consider this to be good merchandizing. Did you know that Amazon tracks everything that you read, to see how much a book engages you, and how far into the book you are? Probably you do not. Do you know that anything you highlight on your kindle is sent back to Amazon and they use that to see what topics or phrases you are truly interested in and also use that to market to you? Hang on you say, this is getting creepy! They are also sharing this information with publishers so that publishers know what it is that people like within each publishing genre. How scary is that?
So welcome to the age of electronics!
Media has been tossing around the phrase electronic age for about 20 years now, but it is only more recently that we are seeing the types of privacy intrusions that were discussed by George Orwell in his book nineteen eighty four. It would seem that our society was a bit slow in living down to George's low expectations of us.
So what is it that all of these companies are doing with all this information?
So far, the publishing companies are focusing on choosing plot scenarios that are sure to sell well. In some cases, they have co-opted well-known writers into putting their name to material produced by ghost writers. And the information is also used for verifying that the resulting story lines are consistent with the original material as well. Imagine how much better the Star Trek series would have been with such information at their disposal. What do you think that similar tactics could do for the likes of Nicholas Sparks, Luanne Rice or Ken Follet?
Nora Roberts also writes under her alter ego J.D. Robb. Other authors have done the same. How about going the next step and not having anybody to back the alter ego? It would be possible to invent a catchy name, give them a web presence on twitter, facebook and other social sites, set up a website for the author with a blog, the photo could be a real person's photo that they have doctored a bit with a tool like photoshop to make it just different enough, and then promote them in regular media. They could play up the fact that the author has agoraphobia and will not appear in public. If you back these fictitious people up with a team of ghostwriters knocking off stories that will appeal to the masses and you have a good start. Of course the next step in this sequence will be to hire people to do blog posts and answer email from these fake entities. The public in general will believe that there is a real person attached to the name. Especially if you pay some people to say that they actually met them once. This might very well be the future of publishing!
So lets look at another industry that is even more likely to avail itself of similar information and technology. That industry is Web Dating Services!
The Xbox Kinect from Microsoft is an interesting computer interface that responds to gestures and voice. Apple's deployment of SIRI in a big way is also likely to shape a lot of near future technology. Voice and gesture interface technology will initially be deployed on mobile devices, but will quickly become the norm for all computer based systems. If this technology were widely deployed, imagine the changes in our lives. Ask your car why it is hesitating when you step on the gas and it will respond that it has not had a tune up in three years, what do you expect?
What would interfacing with computers be like if all technologies were combined? What if you could come up with a simulacrum that would be able to interactively chat with someone? What if they can recognize you on sight, pull up your previous conversations? What if they can tell if you look sad or tired?
Most dating sites already have ways to initiate contact with new members to get them used to interacting with other people on the site. After all, a site full of lurkers who just watch what is going on and never participate is pretty useless. But their real motive is not so altruistic. They are really trying to get you to pay for an upgraded membership and then stay on the site for several months. When people upgrade so they can reply to these messages, they have people on staff to interact with you. So that hot chick that seems to be so enamored with you seems too good to be true, and probably is. There ain't no such thing as a free lunch, and dating sites have to make money to stay in operation. It is not all fake, but some of it is.
Their main intent is to keep you coming back until you can find a real person that you like. It can take a long time to find the ideal person. If you quit too soon, they will get a bad reputation, and you will not get what you wanted in the first place.
The next step for the dating industry, would be for them to customer manufacture profiles that match what you are looking for. This would be that much better at retaining you. If you are looking for a red headed, 6 foot tall bisexual playmate, they can create a few for you. All have apparently joined in the last few weeks, and all will be just varied enough to look like a random mix. In the couple of moments that it takes you to complete a profile, and log in, they could have a bunch of perfect profiles created for you to interact with, and they can keep creating a few more every day for you to find.
What is the next step? In a decade or so, it should be possible to have a computer generated entity that can interact with you one on one via video chat. Programs currently exist that will can interact with you, and they will fool most people into believing that there is a real person at the other end. Where the media focuses on the more mechanical aspects of artificial intelligence, like walking and running robots, the true breakthroughs that need to be made are on the intelligence side of the equation. At the present time, nobody has invented a computer based mechanism that is capable of independent thought.
From your perspective, if you are on a dating site and you are interacting with someone who seems too good to be true, then just try to initiate a live video chat session with them. If they are never available, or if they have 'technical problems' with their computer, then it is really suspicious. If for some reason, you can never manage to get them to chat, then close down your communications with them and try someone else. They are either totally fake, or else they are lying about who they are.
So although it may be possible at some point in the future for dating sites to manufacture a playmate for you to chat with, that is not currently possible. In the mean time, a video chat test will pretty much allow you to rule out any shenanigans on their part.
After all that negative information, there is still an intelligent way to use Online Dating Sites. If you are a man, to minimize the artificial contacts, just upgrade to a paying membership as soon as you join. That will pretty much ensure that you ware always interacting with real people. If you are a woman, then join sites where women get free full memberships and never have to pay. That being said, you must also make sure that the men have to pay. Sites where both men and women have free memberships tend to attract some really scummy guys.
This blog post should enable you to understand the more negative side of dating sites, and what is possible. Online dating sites are still a good place to meet someone. Just keep your wits about you when you join one. And to get a good listing of online dating sites, click on the link below:
Dating Sites Online