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How Tweet for a Read is encouraging reading

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How Tweet for a Read is encouraging reading

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I’m an avid reader, and regard reading a variety of books a fundamental part of staying up to date on the latest trends and thinking in the business world.  It is undoubtedly difficult to remain focused on your book however with the plethora of digital distractions trying to grab your attention.  It’s one of the reasons I find journeys on public transport so enjoyable, as it often removes the possibility of digital distractions.

There have been some interesting developments in the e-book market in recent years to try and improve our understanding of who reads what, not least on the technological side of things.  For instance, some MOOCs now allow participants temporary access to the textbooks required for the course via an e-reader, with many of the devices feeding back information to the publishers on the parts of each book that are actually read by each student.

This information gives publishers (and authors) plenty of information on just how ‘sticky’ their book is.  Alas, as yet, no publisher or technology vendor has managed to come up with a solution to help us zone in on the book and resist distractions, other than of course providing suitably compelling text in the first place.

The Brazilian branch of book publishers Penguin think they may have the answer however, and are enrolling one of the social networks that is most responsible for distracting us in the first place.  They’ve created the Tweet For a Read campaign to try and help people finish the books they’ve started.

At the heart of the campaign is a whizzy electronic bookmark.  The device comes complete with a light sensor, a timer and a wi-fi enabled computer.  Each part fulfills a vital role.  The light sensor is able to detect when the book is open or closed.  The timer on the other hand is used to keep track of each state, so can determine how long a book has been shut for.  These then combine with the wi-fi enabled computer to give the reader a prod if they forget their book of choice.

If a week passes without the book being opened, the bookmark will tweet the reader to remind them about the book.  This isn’t just any old tweet however.  It’s a tweet from the authors account that is composed in the style of the author, and uses phrases and information from the book in question.  It’s pretty smart.

Now, suffice to say that the success of the project will probably depend very much on how it’s implemented.  You can imagine the thrill of receiving a tweet from your favourite author and subsequently striking up a conversation with them, whilst of course the author could get some great feedback too, both in the qualitative sense, but also in a quantitative fashion going from the number of tweets sent reminding people.

All of which is a pretty neat idea, and yet another example of innovations emerging from outside the developed world.  Check out the video below for more information on the project.

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