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Dennis Baron's go-to site for language and technology in the news

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  • Don't read this: What Kindle's most-highlighted passages tell us about popular taste


Comments Jun 23, 2010 11:33 pm

I guess I'm one of those in-betweeners: I think of reading as both a solitary and a social activity but also posted a link to the NYT article in my FaceBook profile, where a former student with whom I'm now friends saw and loved it!On the other hand, as soon as I clapped eyes on that article, I remembered how early books were never solitary -- either communally owned by monasteries, for ex., or, later, read aloud in groups and/ or shared among groups in informal "libraries."Finally, your closing comment -- about what the most popular highlighted passages say about our society and its tastes -- only reinforces the influence of reading material, for better or worse, as well as being reminiscent of what many said about early novels, for ex.

Reply to at 11:33 pm Jul 13, 2010 1:59 pm

Re the privacy concern you raise, I'm sure you're aware of the long tradition among librarians of trying to protect just the sort of information Amazon routinely collects (what books an individual reads). The argument that governments or other organizations can abuse this information, and the need therefore to protect it, probably goes back to the first libraries. Similar arguments have been applied to Internet search results. Of course, as a bookseller, Amazon would naturally keep this information and, if you buy books from Amazon, they have a right to it. However, do you think we are now approaching the point at which a large online bookseller should take additional steps to protect this sort of information? If not, what's the difference between Amazon and a library?Jaime Henriquez

Reply to at 1:59 pm