Social is an integral part of tomorrow's reading experience

When social reading is done right, it's like a great conversation with interesting people.

This post is part of the TOC podcast series, which we’ll be featuring here on Radar in the coming months. You can also subscribe to the free TOC podcast through iTunes.

Book reading has always been considered a solitary activity, but maybe that’s just because of the limitations of print. Social reading platforms are sprouting up all around us, and mobNotate is one of the more interesting ones. This TOC podcast features insight from mobNotate’s founder, Ricky Wong (@kinwong), as well as their technical advisor, Sean Gerrish. They talk about where they are with the mobNotate platform, why social is an important part of tomorrow’s reading experience and what it will look like.

(Listen to this interview via the embedded player or download the MP3 file.)

Key points from the full interview include :

  • Machine learning makes it happen — Related conversations are already happening on the web, but mobNotate ties them back to the text so you don’t have to hunt them down. [Discussed at the 0:45 mark.]
  • Social reading is not an oxymoron — If social reading is implemented correctly it will feel like an on-topic conversation with a lot of really interesting people. If it’s done poorly, of course, it’s nothing more than a distraction. [Discussed at 1:38.]
  • Reader apps & devices don’t lend themselves to content creation — And that’s where a tool like mobNotate comes in, which makes it extremely easy to add your thoughts to the conversation. Think “tapping and swiping” rather than “typing” as well as “curation” rather than “creation.” [Discussed at 6:41.]
  • Social isn’t just for certain genres of content — There are different (and better ways) to implement social features on different types of content. [Discussed at 9:35.]
  • Community is an important part of the value proposition — Social features can help add to the value of your product and therefore help justify a higher price. [Discussed at 11:35.]
  • Social features can still result in a clean & simple reading environment — Sean’s example here of Google “then and now” is a terrific analogy. Social reading functionality needs to be as important to the user experience as images and videos have become to search results. [Discussed at 15:00.]
  • The 80/20 rule applies here as well — A small percentage of users will likely create and curate the content that’s used by the larger audience. [Discussed at 15:46.]

You can listen to the entire interview here.

TOC NY 2012 — O’Reilly’s TOC Conference, being held Feb 13-15, 2012 in New York City, is where the publishing and tech industries converge. Practitioners and executives from both camps will share what they’ve learned and join together to navigate publishing’s ongoing transformation.

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