Tuesday, November 27, 2007

How Many People From Your Social Network Does It Take To Screw In A Lightbulb?

I largely could give two tugs of a dead dog's lipstick about the Amazon Kindle, mainly because I have no need of an expensive gadget to help me do something I've been doing successfully on my own for decades. But like all things on the internet, we're somewhere between the backlash and the backlash to the backlash. That means the conversation's already stale beyond repair. But something in the internecine pissing between Robert Scoble (who doesn't like Kindle) and some gadgety site Crunchgear caught my eye.

Scoble complains:

No social network. Why don’t I have a list of all my friends who also have Kindles and let them see what I’m reading?
And CG responds:

Not everything needs to have a social network. It’s an e-book. Leave it at that. Seriously.
And, yeah. CG is absolutely 100% right. Not only does "not everything need to have a social network," but there is nothing intrinsic in the act of reading that a) requires an online social network, or b) can be improved by an online social network. If a book inspires you to stop reading and start social networking, then you are clearly reading a shitty book. If you see me buried in a book, here's a blanket assumption--chances are, I don't give a shit about the vagaries of your Facebook status or your hottness request. If Kindle purports to be a device that improves the reader experience, then it should eschew social networking utilities entirely.

And let's face it, is there anything more overrated than using the power of the interwebs to let your "friends" know what you happen to be reading? I mean, it can make for an entertaining curiosity, sure, but with all the Facebook apps currently available to let your friends know what books you're reading and what movies you are seeing, the information being conveyed hardly gets beyond the purely trivial. Case in point: I was excited to receive today in the mail a copy of The Omnivore's Dilemma, a book that came recommended by a friend - a friend who sold me on the book's merits during an hour-long face-to-face conversation. I promise you, there is no online social network that can provide that sort of value, where book recommendations are concerned.

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