As I was looking at and transferring those old reviews of Mahler’s 9th Symphony (see my previous post), I discovered that Amazon had suppressed one more of those features that, early on it the website’s existence, made it more than just a commercial website: a community experience and spirit. It had always been possible to comment on the reviews posted by other people. It was a great way to engage in conversations among music-lovers, and I had precious exchanges in the comments under my reviews, or the reviews of others. Admittedly, some of those were heated, and sometimes even on the wrong side of civility, but they still were that: conversations and exchanges between people sharing the same passion for music. I my case, I also used the comments to extend my reviews, and provide information – links to other reviews, more comments, discographies – that wouldn’t fit in the reviews, for reasons of length or limited number of links allowed.
Well – gone, void, annihilated. All of a sudden Amazon decided that the comments were useless – not just new comments, mind you, but ALL of them.
Okay, I understand that, on some controversial products, and especially, I suppose, political books, some of the comments could be close to harassment and the trolls became unmanageable. But Amazon’s response to that (if it was indeed a response to that) is another case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and punishing everybody, accross the board and indiscriminately, for the actions of very few.
The loss is irretrievable. The discographic information I myself provided in the comments, I can probably either reconstruct or, hopefully, find in the drafts of the reviews that I keep on my computer (in case something like that happens). The quasi-doctorate thesis I wrote on the label Mercury, I’m not sure, and I shiver at the thought of looking in my own files and discovering that I haven’t kept it (I think – I hope – I have). But the exchanges? The contributions of others? All the controversies and anecdotes under the reviews of Bernstein’s live Mahler 9th in Berlin in 1979, with the trombones missing their entry at the climax of the Finale, and the post by the guy called “corno” something who claimed to have participated in that concert and that the trombones had been distracted by the commotion of someone in the audience suffering a heart attack (what a great way to go: at the climax of Mahler’s 9th), and a next post claiming that he was making this up – all these exchanges that I would have loved to repost here: gone, suppressed, annihilated. Jeff Bezos is obviously no more interested in developing any “community spirit” at Amazon, but just in making it the vehicle to compete against Elon Musk as the wealthiest man in the universe.
So be it, and I keep using Amazon when I find the cheapest prices there (only for CDs; for books I go to my local bookstore, and for food to my local grocery store). But all this confirms that I need to spend the time required to quickly transfer all my reviews over here, because one day, sooner than I think, Jeff will find it expedient to send them to oblivion.