Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

A View from Henry Jenkins

List Your Library

Steve Johnson is a writer who I have come to trust to address the cultural and social dimensions of new technology. He wrote in Slate this week about Amazon’s new Search Inside feature which I praised here yesterday. He has…

  • October 25, 2003

Steve Johnson is a writer who I have come to trust to address the cultural and social dimensions of new technology. He wrote in Slate this week about Amazon’s new Search Inside feature which I praised here yesterday. He has an interesting concept to fuse the new feature with the kinds of community building impules which Amazon has cultivated via its Lists and Reader Recommendation features – people could list their libraries on the web.

Here’s what he writes:

“We all know people who are better collectors and curators than they are writers or thinkers: You wouldn’t necessarily want to read an essay by them, but you’d love to spend a week browsing their library. By making Amazon libraries public, you could search through those libraries in addition to your own. The only drawback I can imagine to this system is that the potential combinations are so tantalizing, and so fun to explore, that it’s hard to imagine having time left for actually reading any of these books.”

As someone who obsessively scans bookcases whenever I visit someone, the appeal of this is immediate, but I think he underestimates the work involved in listing all of your books. He explains, “Of course, you’d have to describe the contents of your library to Amazon, but unless your library is of Jeffersonian proportions, that’s no more than an afternoon’s work.” Frankly, Jefferson was a wimp compared to many serious modern book collections, mine included…

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    Print + Digital Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

    Technology Review PDF magazine archive, including articles, images, and covers dating back to 1899

    10% Discount to MIT Technology Review events and MIT Press

    Ad-free website experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning print magazine, unlimited online access plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    Print Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

  • Insider Online Only {! insider.prices.online !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Unlimited online access including articles and video, plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.