One Sided Policy Debate - The Science of Literature

by kremlin 1 min read25th Dec 201335 comments


On HackerNews, this article was linked. The general idea is that companies are studying what people like to read, to help authors produce books that people like to read.

Now, for me, when I look at this idea, I see some down sides, but I certainly see some benefits as well.

Almost none of the commenters on NYTimes seemed to see any benefit whatsoever to studying reader behaviour. There were a few who saw the downsides as more mild than the other commenters. But most of the commenters basically saw this technology as some sort of 1984-esque idea that will turn all books into uninteresting, unimaginative pieces of paper that would better serve as a door stopper than as something for literary consumption. Out of 50 comments that I've read, only one person has said something along the lines of, 'This technology can possibly offer something to help authors improve their books'.

Is this just technophobia? Or am I missing something, and this really is a horrible, evil technology that should be avoided at all costs? [That's a rhetorical question -- I'd be surprised if even one LWian held that position]

I guess what I'm asking is, what are the psychological roots for the almost-unanimous aversion to this attempt at gathering and using information about what people want?