Some time ago, I was reading at my local library… what? Yes, the brick and mortar kind. Huh? What do you mean there’s Google and Wikipedia? Yes, I still use those. I just find the experience at the library interesting.
Anyway, I finished a business book, and placed it in the book dump. I don’t know what it’s called. It’s where you put the books you browsed, but can’t remember where it’s supposed to be shelved. Mis-shelving a book can seriously anger a librarian.
Well, I got myself another book, and was reading it when I noticed a young man loitering at the book dump. My guess was he’s about 16 to 18 years old. Bespectacled. A tad thin.
He surveyed the discarded books in the dump like a bargain shopper. He picked all of them up, and started filtering through them. Borrowing this. Borrowing this. Not borrowing that. Hmm, this looks interesting. Alright, borrow this too. Ugh, who reads this?
Curious, I went up to him and asked him what he’s doing, even though I guessed he was filtering through them. He was flabbergasted. He couldn’t give me a straight answer. Like he’s been caught doing something wrong.
I gave him a break, thanked him, and went back to my seat. He continued to process the books, and whaddaya know, there’s a computer beside the book dump for him to immediately borrow those books.
After he left, I was thinking, that’s an ingenious way to find the good books. I mean, if it’s there in the book dump, someone obviously found it interesting enough to take it from the shelf. If it’s interesting enough for someone else, it’s probably interesting enough for him.
That’s like the online equivalent of an RSS feed aggregator or a news site. I understand the need for information filtering. I also believe you should remember to exercise the decision about what information is useful or interesting to you, when you want to. Cultivate independent thinking, and don’t over-rely on others.
Speaking of news sites, there’s an online service, paper.li, that turns your Twitter feed into an online newspaper. It looks really awesome. You can look at mine here (ooh, the Vincent Tan Daily!). And follow me on Twitter.