I feel like we’re suddenly faced with a glut of these great how I read blog posts from The Atlantic and News.me (I did one) and elsewhere. Now the service called Findings has started pitching content into this pile, and their latest post, featuring Clive Thompson, is, I believe, the greatest of the genre to date.
Two things jumped out at me. One…
How do you annotate, and why?
I annotate aggressively. If I’m reading a piece of really long fiction, I often find that there are these fabulous things I want to remember. I want to take notes on it, so I highlight it, and if I have a thought about it, I’ll type it out quickly. Then I dump all these clippings into a format that I can look at later. In the case of War and Peace, I actually had 16,000 words worth of notes and clippings at the end of it. So I printed it out as a print-on-demand book. In short, I have a physical copy of all of my favorite parts of War and Peace that I can flip through, with my notes, but I don’t actually own a physical copy of War and Peace.
…I want that book! I want my highlighted passages from any Kindle ebook rebound as a slim volume that I can leaf through anytime. I want that in my collection more than I want a physical version of the book, and maybe even more than I want a digital version of the book. I want the reduction.
How social is reading for you right now?
It’s extremely social, in part because I grab every tool possible in order to make it so. […]
I’m almost trembling with excitement, because I foresee this point when we surmount some of these design challenges and we’ll be able to have different ways of reading a book. You’ll have a digital book, and if you want, you’ll turn off all the comments, read in solitude — “everyone shut up” — or you can say, show me the most awesome comments, show me the highest-rated comments, show me everything, show me the firehose. What have my friends or people I care about said about this book? Are there any actual people reading this page right now that I might want to have a live conversation with about it? There’s so much fun someone could have with these layers, ranging from classic, total isolation to like rollicking bar-party conversation.
… “I’m almost trembling with excitement,” he says. That is both 100% Clive Thompson and 100% correct. You’ve simply got to be able to see past the present lameness (such as, e.g., the fact that Amazon won’t let me tap into any sort of Kindle API to create the highlight book that I want so badly above) and into the future possibilities, which are really more than possibilities, they are certainties, and it’s just a matter of when, and how, and who. Do that and you will tremble, too.
Addendum: You know, I just realized that Sonia Saraiya is behind both the News.me series and the Findings series. I’m not sure exactly how that works, but I should have known there was a how I read mastermind lurking in the margins. Good work, Sonia.