NPR had this article up on its All Tech Considered site recently.
For those who don’t feel like clicking, it deals with e-readers, and their ability to track how people read.
Now, setting aside the slightly creepy feeling that comes over me whenever I realize that almost every new thing I buy is going to monitor everything I do and perhaps critique it (is there a word for that? spydenfreude?), this is all sorts of interesting. It means that soon, places like Amazon might be trying to convince authors to pay for data mining the people who bought their books. How many stopped after the first chapter? The first page? How many re-read it? How many got part way in and then deleted it? How many immediately finished and bought the sequel?
I wonder, for things like the I-pad, can they use the accelerometer to track how many chucked the device at a wall while reading a work?
This is the kind of thing that can make living in the future insane. Look, I can see the usefulness. If everyone is skipping past my detailed, totally-necessary-for-the-plot description of my main characters spice rack, then maybe it’s not so necessary. But I can’t help but worry that this is one more thing to add to the vast pile of if you only do this, you’re writing will totally sell, sell, sell!
Data is good. Feedback is good. Knowing what works is good. But this kind of thing makes me worry that we will all drown in a sea of data points, desperately swimming towards the perfect while the good floats slowly away.