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Underline This

A very interesting new feature on Amazon.com’s Kindle platform is a form of “social reading” called Popular Highlights.  When you read a Kindle e-book on either the Kindle itself, or when using the Kindle app on an iPad or iPhone, you are able to “highlight” whatever passages you find to be most interesting or important.

According to the kindle section on Amazon.com, Popular Highlights is a “feature that identifies the passages that are most highlighted by the millions of Kindle customers. We combine the highlights of all Kindle customers and identify the passages with the most highlights. The resulting Popular Highlights help readers to focus on passages that are meaningful to the greatest number of people.”  Last week there was a good NYTimes article on this new feature and its possible implications.

Essentially, the Popular Highlights feature is a collective and social form of reading – seeing what everyone else who is reading the same book is underlining in the book.  What a cool way to take advantage of the digital medium.  I love underlining physical books when I read them, so this feature really speaks to me.  I would love to know what other people are underlining in the same book.

And, interestingly enough, according to amazon.com, the most highlighted sentence to date is from Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers:  “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.  It is not how much money we make that ultimately makes us happy between nine and five. It’s whether our work fulfills us.”

Sometimes the crowds are indeed wise.


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