Popular Highlights in the Burial of Jesus

One nice feature of Kindle ebooks, such as my own The Burial of Jesus: What Does History Have to Do with Faith?, is the fact that data can be collected about what readers highlight in the text. Amazon shares such information anonymously on the book’s page.

Here are the three most popularly highlighted quotes from that book:

For some, religion is about confidently knowing; for others, it is about meekly acknowledging the inadequacy of our human knowledge.

it was, in fact, primarily the Romans who wanted Jesus apprehended, and the Jewish authorities were taking preemptive action to hand Jesus over to them, lest the Romans send their troops in and there be more bloodshed and loss of life.
The Bible also challenges those who believe in God to be open to new information, to new experiences, even though such new data may require that one revise one’s theology and indeed one’s whole worldview.

Click through to see what else readers of the book have highlighted. And if you have read it or read  it in the future, or read other Kindle ebooks, keep in mind that there might be another reason than just your own benefit to highlight a sentence or passage that speaks to you.

I’m also interested to hear from readers of Kindle ebooks about this feature. How does the fact that books now read you, and not just vice versa, affect the way you read, if at all? And how do you feel about the way such technology is automatically turning reading into a communal process?

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  • Is this really a communally shared experience or a way a Chinese web spy can mark the location of intellectuals to conquer and enslave in the next Techno-thriller?

    Honestly, I feel a sense of violation that my Kindle is spying on what words, sentences or phrases interest me most. I suppose the day was coming. No more shall I lie about buying a Playboy magazine only because I like reading the articles inside.

  • cameronhorsburgh

    I have the popular highlights thing turned on. This leads to a couple of strange things.

    First, every time I come across a highlighted passage I have to see how many people highlighted it. This is somewhat akin to seeing how many people liked a post on Facebook.

    Then I have to stop to think if I like the passage or not. If I do, I also highlight it. Again, this isn’t unlike my behaviour on Facebook.

    I make sure I highlight exactly the same words. I don’t extend it by a sentence or reduce the quote to the bit I like. I’m worried I’m going to break something and my ‘like’ won’t be counted with the others.

    Finally, the effect is to take me right out of the flow of the argument, preferring to go straight to the soundbite. Which means I’m getting about as much intellectual stimulation out of whatever I’m reading as I do perusing Facebook.

    Now that I think about it, I can’t figure out any reason to have it turned on. Why spend $9.99 on an ebook when I get Facebook for free? (And I’ve jut noticed that ‘Facebook’ is ‘ebook’ with add ‘Fac.’ Coincidence?)

    • I wonder whether ebooks that connect with Facebook automatically is a natural next step?

      On the other hand, I have not really used the feature myself. Could one read without it and only turn it on when one wants to share a highlight, so as not to be distracted by the highlights of others when reading something for the first time?

      • cameronhorsburgh

        I think you can still highlight without the highlights being submitted, and you don’t have to see the popular highlights as you read. And on the iPhone Kindle app you can send snippets to Facebook or Twitter.

        • But can you highlight and submit your own without seeing those of others? Or wait until you’ve chosen something to highlight to turn that feature on?

          • cameronhorsburgh

            You can highlight without seeing the highlights of others. And you can choose if others get to see what you’ve highlighted. This feature can be turned on and off, although I’m not sure what happens to highlights you’ve made public in the past when you do.

            Presumably Amazon can see your highlights regardless of your settings.