I guess that’s just like basic nerds. There are book sites, and plugins for your Facebook and MySpace that allow you the voyeuristic pleasure of browsing your acquaintances’ (and strangers’) book shelves. Remember, “Anonymous” is usually in the upper left corner…
For anyone with even a moderate interest in books, snooping at other people’s bookshelves is one of life’s great pleasures. Like music collections, personal libraries offer tantalising encapsulations of character; a quick glance at an acquaintance’s bookshelves or a scroll through their iTunes provides juicy fodder for all sorts of assumptions and judgements. (The students I knew at university who crammed their shelves with reams of avante-garde theory were far too aware of this.)
When these projections of personality are done online, they are what Christine Rosen calls egocasting – “the thoroughly personalised and extremely narrow pursuit of one’s personal taste”. This follows the same principle as the radio site Lastfm, which is based on tracking down music similar to your existing tastes by finding people who like the same sounds as you.
As we purportedly experience Facebook fatigue and Myspace exhaustion, web forecasters predict that the next phase of social networking will be all about specialist sites like these. And where music goes, books will follow, as a wave of new book-related social networking sites promise to do for readers what Lastfm did for inquisitive listeners.