Readership drives readership flaw

Increasingly, we’re being pointed in our online worlds to things that other people read. BBC News lists its ten most-read articles. And more recently, Facebook flags to us the articles that our friends are reading on newspapers such as the Guardian and the Independent.

But to me, reading an article signifies one or more of three things. You might have an allegiance with the newspaper publishing the thing that you’re reading; you might have an interest in the subject being written about; or the headline advertising the article (for that is what headlines do) might have grabbed you.

But reading an article does *not* necessarily signify that you agree with it, nor indeed that it’s worth reading. And this is what I have a problem with in such sharing.

The buttons that now adorn our articles and blogposts are useful. They invite us to make an active decision to share the content (or not) and how indeed to share it. But I find those technologies that automatically share with our networks the things that we are reading trouble me. Content with a catchy title will be read. Its being read will be shared. And this will cause it to be read yet more.

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