The concept of "social reading" has gained significant traction in recent years, as people increasingly seek to share their reading experiences with others and receive feedback on their thoughts and ideas. This form of reading not only helps to make a book more memorable but also fosters better idea formation and explanation through shared writing and thoughts. In fact, research has shown that solitary, deep-focus reading can be enhanced through social interaction (Johnson, et al., 2011, p. 8).

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Sep 01, 2023

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The concept of "social reading" has gained significant traction in recent years, as people increasingly seek to share their reading experiences with others and receive feedback on their thoughts and ideas. This form of reading not only helps to make a book more memorable but also fosters better idea formation and explanation through shared writing and thoughts. In fact, research has shown that solitary, deep-focus reading can be enhanced through social interaction (Johnson, et al., 2011, p. 8).

Traditional book clubs have long been a popular avenue for social reading, with the main motivation being the social interaction between group members over a common interest (AuYeung, Dalton, & Gornall, 2007, p. 3). Online book clubs, on the other hand, cater to a different demographic. Participants in online book clubs are typically adult readers, primarily female, ranging from twenty to forty years old, and with an intermediate reading level (AuYeung, Dalton, & Gornall, 2007, p. 7). However, one major drawback of online book clubs is the lack of predictability and interactivity in membership.

The rise of e-readers, such as the Kindle, has introduced new ways for readers to engage in social reading. The Kindle, for instance, has a feature called "popular highlights," which displays dotted lines under phrases in books that have been highlighted by multiple Kindle readers (Johnson, 2010). This feature allows readers to see what sections of a book have resonated with others, sparking discussions and interactions. Additionally, the Kindle has introduced a lending function that enables readers to share their books with friends after they have finished reading them (Cain Miller, 2011). This lending feature not only promotes social reading but also fosters a sense of community and connection among readers.

While social reading through digital platforms offers convenience and accessibility, it is important to note that physical books still hold a special place in the hearts of many readers. As one author aptly puts it, "books that we've known and handled often have a personal, physical connection to the past that e-books won't be able to capture" (Ng, 2010). The tactile experience of flipping through pages, the smell of ink and paper, and the ability to annotate and mark passages are all elements that contribute to the unique reading experience of physical books.

In a different realm of reading, the field of natural language processing (NLP) has been making significant strides in generating factually correct articles for queries by grounding on large web corpora. This new NLP task involves mining supporting evidence from the web to generate short factual articles with references. The construction of a large-scale dataset called WebBrain-Raw, which extracts English Wikipedia articles and their crawlable references, enables experiments and advancements in this area (WebBrain: Learning to Generate Factually Correct Articles for Queries by Grounding on Large Web Corpus).

Researchers have been analyzing the performance of current state-of-the-art NLP techniques on WebBrain and have developed a new framework called ReGen. This framework enhances the generation of factually correct articles by improving evidence retrieval and leveraging task-specific pre-training for generation. The ability to generate factually accurate articles based on web evidence has incredible implications for various fields, including journalism, content creation, and information retrieval.

In conclusion, social reading has become increasingly popular as people seek to share their reading experiences and ideas with others. Traditional book clubs and online platforms provide avenues for social interaction and discussion among readers. The rise of e-readers, such as the Kindle, has further facilitated social reading through features like popular highlights and lending functions. However, it is important to recognize the unique connection that physical books offer to readers. Additionally, advancements in NLP have allowed for the generation of factually accurate articles by mining supporting evidence from the web. This has the potential to revolutionize various industries and enhance information retrieval.

Actionable advice:

  • 1. Embrace social reading platforms and join online book clubs to connect with like-minded readers and engage in meaningful discussions about books.
  • 2. Explore the features of e-readers, such as popular highlights, to gain insights into what resonates with other readers and spark conversations.
  • 3. Remember to cherish the unique experience of reading physical books, appreciating the tactile elements and personal connections they offer.

References:

  • AuYeung, C. M., Dalton, J., & Gornall, L. (2007). Book clubs: Women and the uses of reading in everyday life. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 39(1), 3-11.
  • Cain Miller, C. (2011, December 29). Kindle E-Books Now Available for Lending. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/30/technology/personaltech/30basics.html
  • Johnson, L., Adams, S., & Cummins, M. (2011). The new media consortium horizon report: 2011 edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.
  • Johnson, S. (2010). The genius of the crowd: Popular highlights on the Kindle. Retrieved from http://www.stevenberlinjohnson.com/2010/05/the-genius-of-the-crowd-popular-highlights-on-the-kindle.html
  • Ng, Y. (2010, September 29). The Future of Reading. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/03/books/review/Ng-t.html
  • WebBrain: Learning to Generate Factually Correct Articles for Queries by Grounding on Large Web Corpus. Retrieved from [source content]

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