Interactive consumption

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Last month, I offered some thoughts about "the end of scarcity". That post included a reference to Sarah Wendell's "A conversation that can't be controlled", a chapter in the third section of Book: A Futurist's Manifesto. Now that the section and full book have been published, I wanted to return to Wendell's essay.

The co-founder of Smart Bitches Trashy Books (SBTB), a review site for romance novels, Wendell sees the interaction between readers and writers, as well as with other readers and maybe even publishers, as more than healthy. In her view, it is inevitable:

"Readers, like any other consumer of media, are not content to passively consume. Allowing their consumption to become interaction, regardless of whether that interaction is laudatory, is part of selling books now. The reader’s voice is important, as is her opinion and what she does next with her opinion. Listening to the reader and allowing the conversation to grow is essential—and is my favorite part of the Smart Bitches website."

In explaining her point of view, Wendell cites Clay Shirky's Cognitive Surplus, which argues that "that people are now learning how to use more constructively the free time afforded to them since the 1940s for creative acts rather than consumptive ones, particularly with the advent of online tools that allow new forms of collaboration." Even when people consume, they want to also interact.

The third section of the book includes 11 examples of what we call "projects from the bleeding edge". Founded in 2005, SBTB is well-established when compared to the other featured efforts, but it remains bleeding edge in its focus on community.

About Manifesto: You can now read Wendell's chapter online, where it is hosted on the PressBooks site. The complete book can also be purchased in print, digital and bundled formats through O'Reilly Media and in print and digital formats at major book retailing sites. I've noted elsewhere that the royalties for the book are being used to fund the development of PressBooks, and for that reason I encourage you to consider buying the book.

Brian O'Leary

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.