Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Amazon Shills

There are certain books which attract reviewers who push one side or another. The Crawford book on cable companies is a prime example. The one star reviews are clearly cable shills. The five star reviews are clearly the Progressive left wing lobby who want the Government to control everything, that is until they do not control the Government.

In Tech Dirt there is a somewhat reasonable albeit poorly researched and a bit one sided piece commenting on the one star reviews. The negative hits on my review were clearly the result of the Tech Dirt article. There is a cadre of left wing (wing-nuts) who believe that the Government should supply everyone with 1 Tera bps link no matter where they are at no cost. Frankly these are the folks who may in my opinion represent the core that leads to destruction of the United States.

The Tech Dirt article states:

Astroturfing -- the process of a faux "grassroots" effort, often set up by cynical and soulless DC lobbyists pretending to create a "grassroots" campaign around some subject -- is certainly nothing new. It's been around for quite some time, and it's rarely successful. Most people can sniff out an astroturfing campaign a mile away because it lacks all the hallmarks of authenticity. A separate nefarious practice is fake Amazon reviews -- which have also been around for ages -- amusingly revealed when Amazon once accidentally reassociated real names with reviewers' names to show authors giving themselves great reviews. Over time, Amazon has tried to crack down on the practice, but it's not easy.

So what happens when you combine incompetent astroturfing and fake Amazon reviews? Check out the reviews on Susan Crawford's book, Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age. Now, I should be clear: while I respect Crawford quite a bit, and often find her arguments compelling and interesting, I found Captive Audience to go a bit too far at points, and felt that the book lost a lot of its persuasive power in really overstating the case. We agree that the broadband market is not even remotely competitive, but we disagree on the solution to that. Still, I think the book is very much worth reading, and an important contribution to the discussion on broadband/telco policy. 

Now from a previous post I reviewed the book. The review was up for some four months and generally got 80-90% useful indications. Then someone must have read it in the pro Crawford or pro-Cable camp and they went to work giving it dozens of negative help indications in hours. It is clear that the action was coordinated and deliberate to cram down the review.

This book in my opinion is of poor quality. I indicated as such why I felt it to be so. I am no fan of the cable companies, Comcast in particular. I was a Group President at Warner Cable a few decades ago so I have had a seat on both sides. I was also a Senior VP at NYNEX and now Verizon so I understand the telcos, and I also in my own company built one of the largest fiber networks in the world. But expertise seems to have no value in the cyber world of game playing. The anonymous reviewers and critics are useless shills in the world of information.