bobrobboy: March 2008 Archives
In grade school I used to pull the little card out of the back of the library books to see who else had checked out that book. This would have been 1974 or '75. All students had to sign the card to check out a book. I often jumped right to the card in the back without looking at the first page of the book. If I knew who the kids were on the card, I'd get that book. I'd also tell those kids that I was reading the same book they read.
My favorite book was Danny Dunn and the Voice from Space by Jay Williams. I would count the number of times my name appeared on that card! (Call it an early recommendation engine.)
So when an Amazon Kindle became available in OCLC's library on Friday morning, I rushed over to pick it up. I've been exploring a number of collaborative reading tools and have been impatient to get my hands on a Kindle. By Friday evening I'd bought Naked Conversations by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel and a magazine.
I'm less than half way through Naked Conversations. Let's see ... I'm at locations 1175-77. I don't know what that means. This is one of the problems I have with the device. How can I discuss this book with someone else if I can't tell them which pages I've highlighted. Which reminds me of another problem, I cannot highlight text across "pages" or screens or locations ... I don't know what to call them.
I'm collaborative by nature. I like to share what I'm reading with other people. I learn more that way and hopefully others learn a bit from me. (I confess to buying used books just so I can see what other people have highlighted!) The Kindle is a great little device for reading, but I haven't figured out any way to share my experience with someone else. Anyone else really dig that passage on location 1176?
I'm also concerned about the notes I have taken on the device. The menus and scroll wheel have proven to be more effective than the highlighter, pen and PostIt Notes I carry around in all my books. (The Kindle is certainly lighter than all that stuff.)
Because these tools are so easy, I've been taking notes just as frequently as I do with a printed book. Here's the problem: I have to Deactivate my Kindle from my Amazon account in five days because the device has to go back to the library. What will happen to my notes?
Amazon has a "Manage My Kindle" page, but neither my notes, bookmarks or highlights seem to be there. I'm assuming they are stored with the book on the device which means I will lose those things when I deactivate. Guess it's back to PostIt Notes for me.
Enough about the problems. As I said I'm well in to Naked Conversations. I've read enough of the book on the Kindle to have gained comfort with the physical nature of the device and the reading experience. Both are very good.
The device has odd angles, but it fits in my hand perfectly. I can page forward with just a nudge from my palm or a finger. It is much easier than turning a page. As silly as that sounds in the last day and a half I've found myself reading in situations where this benefit became apparent. Thinking back to my days working in Washington D.C., this thing would be really handy while riding the metro.
I do wonder why there are prominent volume buttons on the bottom of the thing. And the large side buttons seem rather fragile, but the ergonomics are fine otherwise.
The reading experience is great. While reading the first few chapters, I found myself still thinking about the device and the necessary actions. But earlier today I realized that I'd been reading for a while without thinking about the device itself. When was the last time you stopped reading in the middle of a paragraph and thought about the font used to print the book? All of the actions required to read from a printed page are wrote; we don't think about them. I think it says a lot that I reached the same point with an e-reader after spending so little time with it.
The screen display is a wonder I seem to be able to scan "pages" nearly as quickly as I can on a printed page. The text buttons are more difficult than those on a Blackberry for some reason. Pages do not advance fast enough for me and the Back button still confounds me. It is clear that this is an immature device. I will expect a lot more from later versions.
All in all I'm looking forward to finishing up Naked Conversations and getting updates from a newspaper, but I'm disappointed that my content appears to be locked inside this neat little thing.
I guess I'll keep looking for that little card in the back of the book.
The AllFaceBook blog is reporting two new applications for Facebook both created by Amazon. I've added the Amazon Giver application. I'm just clicking through it now. I'm excited to see this given my experience with Amazon Wish Lists, which I've blogged earlier.
This is a big step for a major e-tailer. Moving out to the social Web introduces some interesting questions for businesses, and for libraries. I've been working through some of these questions myself since we introduced the WorldCat in Facebook application. The socialization of content raises new questions for everyone:
- How deeply do we allow users to integrate our content into third-party sites
- Which social platform (or platforms) do we develop for? Facebook? OpenSocial?
- Do we build on Facebook and Bebo's (AOL!?) implementation of their platform or MySpace's implementation of OpenSocial?
These questions need to be asked in the context of the organizations audience which means that new tools for measuring that audience (and for measuring success) will be needed. How valuable are the page views to your site if most of your content is consumed via RSS? How do you manage usage statistics reported from multiple social networks? What does "engagement" mean for your organization?
The recent Graphing Social Patterns West conference highlighted the shift from measuring impressions to measuring engagement. One of the more interesting AppNite demos at GSP West was developerAnalytics, a Facebook application that measures the virality and engagement of an app as well as revenue generated from the app. This is just an early example of the tools that businesses will need to master as they socialize their content through the Web.
There is a lot to learn in this emerging environment. Here at WorldCat, we are eager to learn. And as we learn, we'll bring web-scale to libraries.