took Kindle users highlighted passages and figured out what ones were highlighted the most (apparently Outliers is #1). Why? Just for kicks. When they published these findings, half the reading world went, "How dare you?!" the other, "Chillax. Have another brownie." I fall into the first half. To me this is just creepiness for the sake of creepiness.
I've been thinking about this since I heard about it and wondering why I feel the way I do. As some of the commenters in this Red Tape article eloquently state, there is a lot of creepier info about us floating around out there. I'm sure my credit card company knows more about me than I do. But somehow the Amazon highlighting issue freaks me out more. Why?
Maybe it has to do with the history of books and freedom of thought. Long ago, before the printing press, only the wealthy had access to books. The rest of us poor slugs were mired in our own ignorance and told to like it. Then Johannes Gutenberg (not Steve) made the written word cheap and accessible to the masses. And the world changed.
Revolutions are fueled by books. Authorities would destroy printing presses and jail the owners. If someone had an idea, the best way to share it was to get yourself in print. People ban and burn books for the ideas in them. Even today, certain publishing houses are banned in Iran. No wonder we don't like people reading over our shoulders.
As readers, we think that as long as To Kill a Mockingbird is on the shelf at the local bookstore, all is right with the world. So, when a company like Amazon starts fiddling with books in this way, people get twitchy. It makes us uncomfortable. It's all very innocent, for now anyway, but that still doesn't make readers okay with it. What else can they do? Delete your copy of 1984? Oh wait, that's right, they already did that. If readers are being alarmist, I don't think that's a bad thing. Amazon is the holder of this information and they have a responsibility to use it wisely. Not just because it seems like a cool idea at the time.
The thing is we have to control the technology, not let it control us. I have nothing against e-readers (I have one) and it seems that it will be the way we read in the future. So why not say this is not okay now rather than later?
So, what do you think? Creepy or Cool?