History and Historians

meta meta meta

Or, Towards a Universal Theory of Geekery


A meme cut an interesting path through my blog reader the other day.

First, I saw that the eminent historians and philosophers over at The Edge of the American West were worrying over a particularly stupid Amazon copy protection patent (shorter Amazon: changing words in e-books will help us stop pirates!). The gist of the comments was that the Amazon idea would destroy the experience for the reader, and make it impossible to do certain types of research and teaching; very much a response as consumers of texts — and not, for the most part, as producers. (Money quote: “It’s my understanding that historians always insert at least one subtle but distinctive misstatement of fact in each chapter…”)

That EotAW post tipped it’s hat to the blog of SF author John Scalzi — who was mainly annoyed, as an author, that Amazon would try and copy-protect his books by changing the words. (” Hard as it may be for Amazon to believe, I actually use the words I intend to use when I write.”)

He in turn linked to Slashdot, meme generator of old, which filed Amazon’s idiocy under more long-term complaints with copy protections, and the rush to claim prior art, etc. (Money quote from comments: “Yo dawg, I put a clock in your clock so I can sue you while you check the time.”)

(Also: Here’s Amazon’s actual patent)

So, two things. First, in all three places, one of the first comments was about how map makers supposedly insert small mistakes into their work to make it easy to track down copies. Memes within memes, folks.

Second: an interesting chain of readership / comment, eh? über-geek site to sf writer to history blog? Makes you think historians and hackers might have something in common, or something.


1.) Shorter everyone else: Bzzzt! False, Amazon, false.

Image cite: fox.out22, “Burning fuckin’ Meta,” Flickr, CC License