• Commentary

    Tablets are killing social interactions

    Black and white 20th century photograph of men reading newspapers on a train
    Tablets are killing social interactions

    Tablets are killing social interactions via @jloopz on Twitter

  • Books,  Culture and Society

    Exporting Your Books and Data From Goodreads

    Screen shot of a Goodreads pageI like social networking sites for bibliophiles. I’ve tried most of them. My favorite is LibraryThing.com. Goodreads.com used to be a close second.

    The recent idiocies surrounding Goodreads has had me re-thinking my participation for quite a while. The latest Goodreads faux pas has Goodreads deleting reviews and user’s shelves based on arbitrary criteria about shelf labels referring to authors. There’s a certain irony in that the instructions in the My Shelves sidebar on Goodreads refer to a shelf label “gave-up-on” which could refer to a book or to an author.

    While I don’t know that I’d call this censorship, I do know it’s poor IT policy. It’s also playing into the hands of authors behaving badly by engaging in the author’s big mistake; responding to reviews.

    Reviews aren’t for authors; they’re for readers. Goodreads has very clearly moved from being a site for readers to being a site for authors, and most particularly, for Amazon Kindle Direct and Create Space self-published authors. Deleting “low” rating reviews but not “high” rating reviews is a poor but telling decision. So is deleting users’ shelves with labels that you disagreed with.

    I’m considering deleting my books and profile from Good Reads permanently. I don’t really see them engaging with readers/reviewers honestly, and I do see an increasing interest in exploiting self-published authors to the detriment of readers trying to find the next good book. Mostly, I’ve used Goodreads to track my reading (I don’t rate books as a rule) and get book recommendations from friends.

    Consequently, I’ve been experimenting with importing to and exporting from Goodreads. You can export your data from Goodreads in order to have a backup, or to move your data to another site. Here’s how:

    To Export Your Goodreads data

    1. Log on
    2. Click My Books in the top nav bar
    3. Click Import/Export on the left sidebar
    4. Click Export on the far right

    To Import Your Goodreads Data to LibraryThing

    1. Log on.
    2. Click More in the top navigation bar.
    3. Under “Features” click Import/Export.
    4. Click GoodReads import.
    5. Click “Choose file” and select the file you downloaded earlier.
    6. Click Save (or OK on some OSs).
    7. Wait for processing (which may take a while depending on the server load and your book).
    8. Select your import options regarding duplicates, tags, etc.
    9. Click the Import books button.

    Image of the LibraryThing logo with their tag: What's on your bookshelf?

    I’m a fan of LibraryThing; I paid the $25.00 lifetime membership fee, and have bought several CueCat scanners for libraries to make entering books a simply matter of scanning, then copying and pasting barcodes into the LibraryThing add a book field. I like the features of the site, I like LibraryThing’s emphasis on actually reading and thinking about books, and I like the attitude about community and giving back. Plus, Tim Spaulding, the developer and founder, is a medievalist.

    Amazon owns Goodreads and Shelfari. Amazon also owns a minority chunk of LibraryThing via Amazon’s purchase of ABE Books, who own 40%. Tim Spaulding is still the majority owner of LibraryThing, and he strikes me as fiercely protective of his users (and that’s a very important quality).

    There’s a fairly new European site called booklikes.com. I’ve joined it largely out of curiosity, but it too accepts GoodReads exported files. You need to register, then look at your profile; on the far right of the top navigation bar is a gear icon; click it, then click the Import tab. You can import files exported from GoodReads or LibraryThing to Booklikes. There’s an interesting discussion of Booklikes at The Digital Reader; do read the comments and follow the links.

    The import can take a few hours, so be patient. Here’s a post from BookLikes explaining the import process.goodreads_booksI like social networking sites for bibliophiles. I’ve tried most of them. The recent idiocies surrounding Goodreads has had me re-thinking my participation for quite a while. The latest Goodreads faux pas has Goodreads deleting reviews and user’s shelves based on arbitrary criteria about shelf labels referring to authors. There’s a certain irony in that the instructions in the My Shelves sidebar on Goodreads refer to a shelf label “gave-up-on” which could refer to a book or to an author.

    While I don’t know that I’d call this censorship, I do know it’s poor IT policy. It’s also playing into the hands of authors behaving badly by engaging in the author’s big mistake; responding to reviews.

    Reviews aren’t for authors; they’re for readers. Goodreads has very clearly moved from being a site for readers to being a site for authors, and most particularly, for Amazon Kindle Direct and Create Space self-published authors. Deleting “low” rating reviews but not “high” rating reviews is a poor but telling decision. So is deleting users’ shelves with labels that (i.e. labels for groups of books)

    I’m probably going to delete my books and profile from Good Reads permanently. I don’t really see them engaging with readers/reviewers honestly, and I do see an increasing interest in exploiting self-published authors to the detriment of readers trying to find the next good book.

    Consequently, I’ve been experimenting with importing to and from Goodreads. You can export your data from Goodreads in order to have a backup, or to move your data to another site. Here’s how:

    To Export Your Goodreads data

    1. Log on
    2. Click My Books in the top nav bar
    3. Click Import/Export on the left sidebar
    4. Click Export on the far right

    To Import Your Goodreads Data to LibraryThing

    1. Log on.
    2. Click More in the top navigation bar.
    3. Under “Features” click Import/Export.
    4. Click GoodReads import.
    5. Click “Choose file” and select the file you downloaded earlier.
    6. Click Save (or OK on some OSs).
    7. Wait for processing (which may take a while depending on the server load and your book).
    8. Select your import options regarding duplicates, tags, etc.
    9. Click the Import books button.

    LibraryThing.com

    Image of the LibraryThing logo with their tag: What's on your bookshelf?

    I’m a fan of LibraryThing; I paid the $25.00 lifetime membership fee, and have bought several CueCat scanners for libraries and for freinds to make entering books a simply matter of scanning, then copying and pasting barcodes into the LibraryThing add a book field.

    I like the features of the LibraryThing site, I like LibraryThing’s emphasis on actually reading and thinking about books, and I like the attitude about community and giving back. Plus, Tim Spaulding, the developer and founder, is a medievalist.

    Amazon owns Goodreads and Shelfari. Amazon also owns a minority chunk of LibraryThing via Amazon’s purchase of ABE Books, who own 40%. Tim Spaulding is still the majority owner of LibraryThing, and he strikes me as fiercely protective of his users and the LibraryThing community (and that’s a very important quality).

    There’s a fairly new European site called booklikes.com. I’ve joined it largely out of curiosity, but it too accepts GoodReads exported files. You need to register, then look at your profile; on the far right of the top navigation bar is a gear icon; click it, then click the Import tab. You can import files exported from GoodReads or LibraryThing to Booklikes. There’s an interesting discussion of Booklikes at The Digital Reader; do read the comments and follow the links.

    The import can take a few hours, so be patient. Here’s a post from BookLikes explaining the import process.

  • Culture and Society

    On Building a User Community

    Kathy Sierra, one of the Head First authors, has an extremely useful and thoughtful post on Building a User Community. This is a post from someone who gets community, and the importance of sharing with, rather than feeding from, a community. I’m going to wait until I’ve read the sequel before I post, but you really ought to go read Kathy Sierra right now.

  • Culture and Society

    The Influence of Individuals

    I’ve been watching an interesting saga unfold; bear with me while I expound.

    I’m a member of a community for writers called “Absolute Write.” It’s a combination of a resource site and an online community, with a particular emphasis on outreach and advocacy for writers. There are a lot of scams that target naive writers, including scam publishers and less than professional literary agents.

    Absolute Write is temporarily off the Web because one such less than professional literary agent, Barbara Bauer, took exception, as she is wont to do, to being included on a list of the Twenty Worst Agents, a list that was carefully researched, and documented, and provided as service by the Science Fiction Writers of America, a respected professional organization. Barbara Bauer bullied the somewhat naive ISP into taking down the entire Absolute Write site via a threatening and intimidating phone call.

    Absolute Write will be back,  but this incident is an example of the chilling effect such actions have.

    But it’s also an example of the influence of individuals on the Web as a whole. I first heard about this last night, via an IM from someone who works as a moderator at Absolute Write. I knew something odd was going on because I was logged on when the site disappeared.

    Teresa Nielsen Hayden, a very well known editor, and prominent blogger, posted about the takedown here. Teresa, or TNH, has posted about Bauer before, here and here, where she tried to get TNH fired. Then others picked up the story and posted.

    Here are some good sources about agents and about getting an agent.

    Updated: I’ve been adding links as they appear.

  • Pedagogy,  Writing

    Discussions, Comments and Digital Community

    Teresa Nielsen Hayden, editor extraordinaire and the creator of Making Light (one of the best blogs I’ve ever seen) is not only the author of many fine posts, she also curates a thriving, active, intelligent and interesting group of readers who actively comment on the entries and on each others’ comments. A lot of that community involvement is because of Teresa’s interaction with her readers as a moderator. She offers excellent advice that is right on target for those desiring to use blogs or discussion boards for teaching and student interaction.

I footnotes