Von: men2 at
Betreff: Re: [webartery] Amazon Noir
Datum: 13. Dezember 2006 06:57:23 GMT+01:00

I was amused by your reply & agree for the most part except that
I think things like Amazon Noir are Bad and not just aesthetically
contemptible for the reasons I said in my initial post (which I
discovered to be more serious than I thought after posting, when
I read a Furtherfield interview with the Amazon Noir team in which
they said that they plan to reinvest their ill-gotten gains to also attack
Google Print -- arguably part of "the Man" however that works out
grammatically but also print-on-demand publishers, who are often
individual noncommercial authors...) but also because such things
give new media art rotten publicity.

At least here, we have had Arts budgets decimated for years when
a single Member of Congress or other public official discovers a
single work of Art (especially grant-receiving or prizewinning
Art) that offends him. In the most famous instance of this (Senator
Helms fulminating against Mapplethorpe and by extension the
National Endowment for the Arts) the "offensive" Art was worth
defending and it was arguably better to lose individual NEA
grants forever (not that the Arts community had a choice...)
in order to defend really skillful photographs of naked men
some of whom were gay.

On the other hand, I was a bit annoyed to have The Brooklyn
Museum put in jeopardy because of their morally jutifiable but
aesthetically bogus insistence on exhibiting a Madonna adorned
with elephant dung. And Amazon Noir is more in the elephant
dung camp than the Mapplethorpe camp.

I suspect from past discussions that Michael cares more about the
principles involved (against copyright, for artistic freedom, etc.).
i would like to be principled, but I do look where my own bread
(such as it is) is buttered and I am willing to admit to doing so.
I think one can't ignore political (in the wide sense) realities,
such as that if no one hires or gives grants to (new media) artists
while at the same time open or semi-open means of distribution
are destroyed by "black hat" hackers, Art will suffer. Or at least
Artists will suffer. I suspect Art can take care of itself without any of us...

- original message -
Subject: Re: [webartery] Amazon Noir
From: Michael Szpakowski <>
Date: 12/13/2006 1:23 AM

Hi Martha
Whilst I don't feel quite as wound up about it as you
& Millie do - Amazon will of course keep look inside,
because its a gimmick which contributes ultimately to
their pulling power & hence to the fatness of their
profits - there is something entirely predictable,
trivial & turgid about this project. Its partly the
mismatch between the claims of sticking it to the man,
which in general I'm in favour of & up for & the
trivial mouse like squeak actually produced.
The web site is smug, sloppy & profoundly unengaging -
the whole thing centres around the hack itself (and
whilst I'm absolutely sure these guys are better with
computers than I'll ever be -just a shame they can't
think of anything interesting to do with them- it's a
bit of a giveaway when they say something like 'the
key was to launch many thousands of requests for
content simultaneously'..hardly subtle craft then)
puts me in mind of my daughter's male friends when she
was about 15 -the boys would be forever videoing
themselves doing sub jackass stunts & that's what this
is:- adultescent jackass-wannabes plus some
impressive, but essentially dull, computer skillz

--- Martha Deed <mldeed1 at> wrote:

> So -- if you steal something in an elegant way and
> then offer to sell back your weapon to the victim,
> it's not a crime?
> And that's Art?
> Martha
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: Millie Niss <men2 at>
> To:
> Sent: Tuesday, December 12, 2006 11:17:48 AM
> Subject: [webartery] Amazon Noir
> I think I understand the theoretical "ideas" behind
> the Amazon Noir project as well as anyone
> (questioning the validity of copyright, etc.) and I
> even sympathize with these ideas in many ways (for
> example, I defend the rights of artists to "remix"
> or "mashup" published material to create new art).
> However, the Amazon Noir project, which consisted of
> subverting Amazon's "Search Inside the Book" feature
> to reassemble and redistribute entire books, then
> extorting money out of Amazon in exchange for not
> publicizing the technique's details. This seems to
> me like a criminal act more that conceptual art, but
> what bothers me most is that it is the kind of
> behavior that destroys what is good about the
> Internet, namely the easy availability of
> information for free.
> I use Amazon's "Search Inside" feature almost every
> day. I often use it to make a final decision about
> buying a book. Often, searching inside shows me
> that I do not in fact want the book, but equally
> often, it gets me to buy a book from an author I do
> not know and whose book I would never buy blind. It
> is of mutual benefit to me and to Amazon-- a classis
> win-win exchange.
> This feature allows me in particular (and I note
> that Amazon.France was a target of the Amazon Noir
> campaign) to examine French books which I have no
> way of looking at in real life, being in the US. It
> also allows me to get books I need when I am too ill
> to go to a bricks and mortar store.
> Internationalizing culture and providing remote
> access to the disabled are extremely valuable
> services provided by the Internet, and these
> opportunities are jeopardized by irresponsible and
> arrogant projects such as Amazon Noir.
> The "Search Inside" feature asks publishers to risk
> a small loss of sales from people who get all they
> want online and do not buy the book in exchange for
> potentially greater sales and goodwill from
> customers who use the feature to find and buy
> exactly what they need. It is a loosening of the
> stranglehold of copyright, and as such should be
> applauded by opponents of copyright. Actions such
> as Amazon Noir only serve to tighten the grip with
> which publishers will hold on to their proprietary
> data.
> Millie Niss
> www.sporkworld. org