Alarmist stories at Gigaom, Arstechnica, and elsewhere have recently villainized Adobe Systems for collecting e-book analytics (in unencrypted form) from readers, surreptitiously. "Adobe is Spying on Users, Collecting Data on Their eBook Libraries," a headline from http://the-digital-reader.com blares. Arstechnica is shocked, shocked that people's reading habits are being monitored. And the data's being sent over the wire unencrypted! OH MY GOD!
Give me a freakin' break.
Let's get something straight. Amazon "steals" your reading stats every time you read an e-book. So does Apple. (See the WSJ story "Your Ebook Is Reading You.") Oh, and by the way, who do you think owns Goodreads (which knows a lot about your reading habits)? Amazon, that's who.
Google processes your Gmail to uncover keywords that help it put customized Amazon ads in your face every day. Somehow that's not news, but the fact that Adobe slurps e-book analytics from users of Adobe Digital Editions is treated as if it's the scandal of the century.
Analytics is a big (and I mean BIG) part of what Adobe does now. Do you remember when Adobe acquired Omniture in 2009 for $1.8 billion? What do you suppose that was all about?
It was about analytics, that's what.
Some of the largest web properties in the world run on top of Adobe's Experience Management suite. The latter ties world-class content management to world-class analytics solutions.
Read up on Adobe's SiteCatalyst here.
Arstechnica, by the way, is a Conde Nast property, and Conde Nast is a bigtime Adobe customer. So for Arstechnica to run a sensationalistic screed saying Adobe is stealing people's private reading data is a bit silly. Every time you visit Arstechnica's site, every detail of your visit is captured, rest assured.
Folks, everything you do online is captured, measured, stored, analyzed, by someone, somewhere. Sure, Amazon knows how fast a reader you are, what you like to read, what you finish and don't finish reading, etc. Apple knows this stuff too. Adobe too.
That world we used to live in where no one knew this stuff about you? That world before web analytics? The world of paper-and-ink books that could be read in private? That world is pretty much gone with the wind. Unless you do, in fact, still mostly read paper books. (As I do.)
Let's drop the hysterics about Adobe "spying on readers." Everyone with a web connection is being "spied on" (if that's what you want to call it) nonstop, all the time.
If you don't like it, write your Congressperson. Start a petition. Unplug from the Internet.
But don't heap scorn on Adobe. That's just plain immature.
Disclosure: I used to work for Adobe Systems. I do not work for them, in any capacity, today. These are my opinions. They come solely from me. No one handed them to me. Got it?