On eBookNewser last week, Diana Dilworth asked, "Should reading be social?" In a brief post, Dilworth recaps an author's concern with Mark Zuckerberg's observation, shared with Charlie Rose, about reading as a communal experience: “Do you want to go to the movies by yourself or do you want to go to the movies with your friends? You want to go with your friends.”
I'm not sure that the issue is really whether reading should be social. What we read is already inherently social: we ask others what they are reading, we look for recommendations from others before deciding what to read, and we share information about books that excite us.
Rather, I think the issue revolves around what we can do to maintain privacy when we doing so is our choice. In our recent update to Book: A Futurist's Manifesto, Peter Brantley captured it this way:
One of the last winnowing spheres of our separateness is the privacy we previously were able to enrobe ourselves in by being in a specific place, and not any other. As books take residence on the Web, our browsing, acquisition, and reading experiences are intrinsically uplifted to machines for processing, mining, and re-presentation in recommendations and other marketing. Who we are, seen through the lens of what we experience, becomes commoditized. For the reader, as a user, it will be important to fight for the ability to control the distribution of our information and to provide mechanisms for people to exercise control of how information is shared, and with whom.
If you're interested in this aspect of the issues around social reading, I encourage you to read "The curation of obscurity", Brantley's contribution to Manifesto. I support his view that reading's social nature should remain a choice.