24symbols: Reading in the Cloud
A funny thing about the computer world is how uncool technology used to be. Think about it. The same sorority girl who sneers at geeks as they walk by, is quick to pick up her iPhone and call her friends, texting and chatting all the day long. Her social life is orchestrated by the dorks and dweebs that have been scolded for daring to exist in her mere presence. Years ago someone way up high in the marketing world realized they had a magnificent problem to overcome. How do you sell products made by nerds and their ilk, to cool people? Obviously, they’ve managed to bridge the gap as those whose nostrils flare at the sight of circuit boards have come to purchase their derivative products like all the other latest fads. How did this happen? Branding.
A slowly forgotten chapter in computer history is that Apple, yes the same Apple for all the imPampered products, used to have many competitors. Here are their names- pick which one the sorority chick liked: Apple, IMSAI 8080, MITS Altair 8800, and Radio Shack TRS-80. Now imagine people camping out all night in order to get themselves a TRS-80. It’s laughable, even though it’s possible it was a superior product. No, by choosing a name that the general masses can relate to Apple successfully hid their geekiness.
Right now in the technology world the geekiest thing of all is becoming popular in mainstream circles. It’s branded The Cloud. This popular buzzword is embraced by business folks and technology folks alike, though for very different reasons. Business folks and the grown up sorority chicks in their midst, like clouds because they’re nice, fluffy, and allow you to access things while you’re out and about. Geeks like the cloud because it looks like this. If any sorority chicks accidentally clicked that link we can only surmise that their nostrils are permanently stuck in the flared position. Only another cosmetic surgery can undo them now.
For those who don’t know what a cloud is and why any of us should care, clouds are rows and rows of computers working together to process data and serve files remotely. This means all you need is a device that can access it and you can get your information from anywhere in the world. In layman’s terms, all you need is a browser. Data is also a techie term so let’s pick something people can relate to- books. What if you could keep a virtual library online which could be accessed from anywhere? As it turns out you can, with 24symbols. They have brought books to the cloud, following in the footsteps of Pandora’s music and Netflix’ movies.
24symbols offers two packages. First is ad supported books. These are free and can be read online. Second is their premium package which removes the ads and allows you to download the books for offline reading. What this means to every day users is you only need to sign up and can begin setting up your virtual library today. Since they work directly with publishers 24symbols can offer copyrighted materials for free. So let’s cut to the chase. You mean to tell me I don’t need to buy books anymore since the 24symbols people are offering them for free, with a few ads? Yes.
Some critics balked initially that publishers would go for this. Online ad based systems aren’t nearly as lucrative as getting dollars and cents for every purchase. Further, there are some that fear the cloud. As you read books online the services can collect information on when people put the book down. Thus some expressed concern that books will become influenced by marketing data rather than written as they otherwise would have been. Verily, this is a concern. But hey, free books man! I don’t think anyone’s going to let the collection of marketing data stop them any more than it stops them from using email, Google drive, and everything else we do online. As we recently learned technology will one day take over the world anyway. Let’s just enjoy it, OK?
To further our enjoyment of our reading experience 24symbols built a social network as well. You can share books with friends, see what they’re reading, and offer comments on the main social networks. I know I’m not the only one who’s excited to talk about a book with others who read it.
24symbols is a logical if not obvious next step in the online stratosphere. People love to read. They love to read on their kindles, iPads, laptops, and even mobile phones. Now they can set up their library online, read wherever they like, and share the experience with friends. It’s a brilliant and convenient solution. Let’s just hope every book doesn’t start to follow the same plot cues as a result of any marketing data collected. But never mind that- 24symbols gives us free books with ads, and a very economical premium offering as well.