Posts Tagged ‘social-networking’

Social-Networks Activate! Help Me Find A Good Book to Read

March 16th, 2009 at 12:03 am
Bookstore by ImaginaryGirl on Flickr

"Bookstore" by ImaginaryGirl on Flickr

When I was young I read a lot. Then I went to University. Some of you may be familiar with my 9 year dance with post-secondary studies. The details of which being longer than I ever care to write about, the take-away point is that during this period, I pretty much stopped reading anything I wasn’t required to read (two exceptions being The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings books, and the Harry Potter series, the inner-nerd in me types gleefully).

Over those 9 years, I kept telling myself it was ok because I was just tired from all the required readings from school. Then, once school was finished, my tune smoothly transitioned to the I’m-so-busy-at-work and recently the oh-my-god-being-a-new-parent-is-so-exhausting excuses. But I’ve grown tired of these excuses and want to find something to read… damnit!

"Hardy Boys Collection" by hyperboreal on Flickr

"Hardy Boys Collection" by hyperboreal on Flickr

One problem: decisions. Some of you may be familiar with my 30 year dance with decision making. When I was 10 and there were still a couple thousand Hardy Boys books left to read the decision of what to read was really easy, just read whichever book was next in numerical order. Later, I had endless time to wander the aisles of the Lindsay Public Library and found some authors I enjoyed. As an adult, though, how does one choose what they want to read? While Harry potter was fabulously fun to read, I did of feel somewhat like a twelve year old when deciding I was going to read it: Magic?! Awesome!

GoodreadsSo I turned to the interwebs for advice and signed up at Goodreads.

Goodreads is the largest social network for readers in the world. We have over 1,900,000 members who have added over 44,000,000 books to their shelves. A place for casual readers and bona-fide bookworms alike, Goodreads members recommend books, compare what they are reading, keep track of what they’ve read and would like to read, form book clubs and much more. [“about goodreads”]

Unfortunately, Goodread’s “find friends” service (really awesomely providing Google Friend Connect and Facebook App as options) was merely an quick and easy way to discover I don’t know a single one of those 1,900,000 members. The site seems to be reasonably well designed though and I think it would be a lot of fun if I knew some people on the service.  One feature I liked in particular was the ability to customize the “book links” that appear below each book.  In addition to standard Amazon, and, I saw you could add links for the Toronto Public Library search, and added my own for the Ottawa Public Library.

So, take 2. I’m casting out this post into the murky social-netwaters to find out who of you are avid readers, how you find and share good books online, and what the hell you think I should read.  Add comments below, email me, or if you don’t already have an online service to manage your virtual book shelves give Goodreads a try and add me as a friend so I can list something more than the Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings books on my profile.

The Twitter Divide

January 18th, 2009 at 11:17 am

Twitter LogoI use Twitter. I enjoy using Twitter.  I created a Twitter account because it was constantly being discussed and dissected on several podcasts to which I am subscribed (I’m looking at you This Week In Tech).  I’ve noticed, though, that my Twitter experience differs from both the experiences discussed on these shows, and what I can observe following various people.

The differentiating factor appears to be notoriety.  Twitterers who have some level of notoriety, often due to some level of fame (even in a niche community like some podcasts) have a much easier time gaining followers on the service.  The more followers you obtain the more the service changes from a micro-blog to a social experience.

The stories that intrigued me the most about Twitter were about instant-gatherings (where one Twitterer might post “I’m going to such-and-such a place, anyone else want to go?”), or the ability to get responses to questions almost instantaneously (John Hodgman, @hodgman, often throws questions out to what he has come to refer as the “Hive Mind“). These experiences simply aren’t possible without a high number of followers, and often even more than that, a high number of followers within geographic proximity (for questions like “Where’s the best X in Y“).

My approach to following people on Twitter is to be selective rather than promiscuous. I don’t want to just blindly follow every user I find in the hopes of getting a follow-back from the user and increasing the number of followers I have. I only want to follow the tweets of people of which I have some common interest. Furthermore, very very few people I know in person or at work use the service (less than 5 people so far). So for me, of little notoriety, my rate of follower count increase will be quite low.

All this being said, I return to my second statement: I enjoy using Twitter. Its just that what I’m getting out of Twitter doesn’t match what some of it’s biggest proponents describe.