Virginia Heffernan:

Amazon is quick to point out that you can always disable the [Popular Highlights] feature. But there’s a genie-in-the-bottle problem here. As with many things on the Web, once you’ve glimpsed popular highlights, it’s hard to unglimpse them. You get curious about what other readers think, especially with a book like “Freedom,” which bookstore windows and airplane waiting lounges would have you believe everyone is thinking about. Reading, after all, is only superficially solitary; in fact, it’s a form of intensive participation in language and the building of common culture.

Well . . . I disabled it immediately and have never considered re-enabling it. I am not in the least bit curious about what other people underline. Does that make me arrogant? A misanthrope? Both? . . . Cool.


  1. I've never understood arguments like this – implying that Amazon is at fault, even when its under your control…like the people who get upset that Google Instant won't recommend certain dirty words. How dare you make us press "Enter", Google!?!?! Why can't these damn companies just understand us and how lazy and addicted we are!

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