Books, the idea: Here’s comes the data; what to do with it?

Posted by Rob Walker on May 11, 2010
Posted Under: The Algorithm Method,Things/Thinking

As you may know, Amazon is now compiling and making available to the public information about the “most highlighted” books among Kindle users, and even the “most highlighted” passages. A Dan Brown book, the Bible, and a book I’ve never heard of called The Shack are the top three most-highlighted works as I type this. In general, the books on that list are religious/spiritual titles; self-help stuff; business-advice books; or some combination of those categories. This is not exactly a surprise, but it’s interesting to see.

It’s more interesting to parse the most highlighted passages, which you can do here. Below the jump, I’ve listed the top ten passages (as of the moment when I’m typing this), without naming the authors or books. I think it’s more fun to read them without that context. And also to wonder about the people who did the highlighting. Perhaps, inspired by David Shields, someone could build an essay, or even a whole book, out of these mostly platitudinous word clusters.

That’s a joke (sort of). But of course this is just the sort of techno-driven development in reading/books that has, in a sense, inspired this entire series. As many have noted:

  • books are containers of readable information or stories and so on
  • but also: books are display objects (on shelves, or simply being read in public)

Earlier I suggested that if  books are going to migrate into digital-only form in time, then perhaps people will need a flat-screen “shelf” that displays the digital spines of whatever we’re reading — or want people to think we’re reading.

I’m not completely serious about this stuff … but I’m not completely kidding. What could be done with the information that Amazon is gathering from Kindle users? Possibly your favorite highlighted passages could be a screensaver or something? Or run a as a kind of news ticker beneath the digital renderings of bookspines or the virtual shelving unit described above?

Anyway. Here are those top highlighted passages. See what you make of them:

Three things—autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward—are, most people agree, the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying.

Paradigms power perception and perceptions power emotions. Most emotions are responses to perception—what you think is true about a given situation. If your perception is false, then your emotional response to it will be false too. So check your perceptions, and beyond that check the truthfulness of your paradigms—what you believe. Just because you believe something firmly doesn’t make it true.

Grace doesn’t depend on suffering to exist, but where there is suffering you will find grace in many facets and colors.

WHAT WE HAVE DONE FOR OURSELVES ALONE DIES WITH US; WHAT WE HAVE DONE FOR OTHERS AND THE WORLD REMAINS AND IS IMMORTAL.

Relationships are never about power, and one way to avoid the will to power is to choose to limit oneself—to serve.

Trust is the fruit of a relationship in which you know you are loved. Because you do not know that I love you, you cannot trust me.

‘That which is impenetrable to us really exists. Behind the secrets of nature remains something subtle, intangible, and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion.’ ”

Outliers are those who have been given opportunities—and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them.

McTaggart’s book The Intention Experiment, and her global, Web-based study—theintentionexperiment.com—aimed

“To force my will on you,” Jesus replied, “is exactly what love does not do. Genuine relationships are marked by submission even when your choices are not helpful or healthy.”

Further diversion may be found at MKTG Tumblr, and the Consumed Facebook page. Tags:

Reader Comments

I’m putting into motion a project that was inspired by your “Books, the idea” series. I wanted to play around with the idea of library books being a sort of catalyst to social networking so I’m placing a note inside of every single library book I check out with my contact information (minus home address). I imagine it being a real life GoodReads. Oddly enough, the first book I did it with was “Reality Hunger.” Shortly after the iPad came out, the NYPL tweeted the following quote from a NYT piece: “…the most ecologically virtuous way to read a book starts by walking to your local library.” That really resonated with me. Hopefully people will respond and I’ll see what sort of connections can be made though communal objects like library books.

#1 
Written By Gladys Santiago on May 11th, 2010 @ 3:06 pm

This sounds fantastic, Gladys! I’ll post separately about it soon. Keep me posted!

#2 
Written By Rob Walker on May 12th, 2010 @ 11:39 am

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