Sunday, December 23, 2012

Amazon cracks down on fake ("Argo") or contrived reviews

Amazon is cracking down on nepotism and “review farming” of its products, according to a Sunday (December 23, 2012) front page story in the New York Times by David Streitfeld, link here.  The title is “Giving Mom’s Book Five Stars? Amazon May Cull Your Review”. And that doesn't just refer to the movie "Argo". 

I guess some people really do buy books or DVD’s based on in-house reviews.  One person has reviewed over 25000 books.  I prefer to do my reviewing media on my own sites, although I do give star numbers on Netflix (and I haven’t heard that Netflix will implement a similar policy.)  I often look for reviews of books and movies online, but I typically look at other blogs and at newspaper review, and, yes, Roger Ebert.
I will mention here a particular 2006 review  (link)  of my first book by “Fed Up with Amazon”, who titled her review of me “Incoherent”.  I had addressed some of her comments in my Jan. 2, 2007 posting here (“I  Have a Screed”), and her question about “why we should care about what he thinks” is answered by the first chapter, the whole William and Mary Expulsion event.  Now that, as I have written, was linked to the “gays in the military” debate 35 years later by the “privacy in circumstances of forced intimacy” argument, but over time I’ve come to see that link as more about social cohesion (not just “unit cohesion”) and social capital.
I went back today and looked at my text on “deconstruction” (from Chapter 5 in the 1997 book) – maligned in her review.  Indeed, back in the 1990s, libertarian “ideology” often said that  federal (libertarian) elected officials would become dedicated to dismantling programs that aren’t authorized by  the Constitution, so the term does describe what libertarians said “we” wanted.  I think, however, you have to be careful what you wish for.  You might get it, or officials might try.  For evidence, look at the Tea Party and how, over ideology, it almost drove the nation into default on the summer of 2011 and could do so again in 2013.  In some scenarios that could mean that some social security beneficiaries in circumstances like mine suddenly no longer get benefits.  (I’ve talked about that on the retirement blog.)  Imagine what it would be like if someone like Sarah Palin (John McCain’s running mate in 2008) really got into the White House.  So yes, we’ve seen politicians take this idea to heart – maybe they’ve even read my passages online and felt “inspired” – and the results were not what I had intended.  Remember, it was Karl Marx who predicted that the state would gradually wither away.  That as in 12 grade government class!  

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