Amazonfail: The Morning After

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This post is mostly just an excuse to say “hashtag.” Hashtag. It’s just so satisfying.

Also to say that I find the mass introspection on display—most eloquently by gifted insta-essayist Clay Shirky—in the wake of the whole amazonfail phenomenon to be almost as interesting as the phenomenon itself.

It is apparent—or as apparent as anything that takes place in the bowels of a massive proprietary database can be—that the de-ranking and de-search-resulting of a number of books with gay and lesbian content on Amazon was the result of an essentially unintentional software problem. But before this became apparent, over this past weekend, mass outrage against Amazon was voiced on blogs and on Twitter. There was what is, or should be, known as a twitstorm.

If nothing else, this will always be remembered as the first controversy to be popularly known by its hashtag. (Hashtag. Hashtag.) But more important, the degree of self-analysis, even self-reproach, within the twatblog community strikes me as unprecedented. Is the hivemind actually “learning” to introspect, and to regulate its hair-trigger news cycle? Now, when somebody is too quick to give into the temptation to get outraged over something, will people get all “remember amazonfail” at them? I wouldn’t surprised. It feels like a new reflex has been created, one that could interrupt the rush to judge so characteristic of online discourse.

In conclusion: hashtag.