But the question is not which would you read, but which would you find?
I think for the purposes of search optimization (or whatever we want to call it), we need a new word. Everybody tosses around the word "quality" like it means something. My niche is FILLED with high quality articles and information, and I am talking stuff written by people who have dedicated their lives and careers to the subject - but your average reader would be loath to read it. In the eyes of the reader, do these articles have "quality"? Not really. To most readers, they are junk that gets in the way of what they are really looking for. "Quality" is not the word that should be used. We should be using the word desirability.
And if one more person squawks on about "how you can buy 5,000" likes or followers and why this is obviously the reason search engines should not use social media, I think I will scream. For goodness sake, did the SEO community not just spend the last decade and millions of client and business dollars to buy umpteen bajillion links to their sites? And linking is a very well known factor in the algorithms. How can one be valid and the other not?
Whether or not they are doing it well, the fact is that Google has plenty of data at their finger tips to determine if links, likes, tweets, pins and whatever social media pop words comes into existence in the next decade are actually valid (i.e. used by people). Panda and Penguin were, IMHO, clear evidence that they are at least trying to sift through this data for that reason. They are looking for what is desirable information. Yes, they may not be doing it well yet (though I have to say in my niche, they do ok), but they are working on it and refining it and, yes, I think very much using it.
Social media is not going away. The players may (and likely will) change, but one has only to look at the social and online life of an average 25 year old to see that there is an entire very large segment of the population that could not fathom a world without social media, much like the generation before them could not fathom a world without the internet. If search engines - Google or otherwise - do not adapt to that, they will die and they know it.