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Connecting with other readers through our websites

Replied to IndieWeb Pop-Up: Personal Libraries (indieweb.org)

Personal Libraries is a IndieWebCamp Pop-ups 2022 session focused on the design and use of personal websites with relation to displaying one’s books online, status updates about reading, and generally talking about books in a Goodreads-like social media manner.

When we log reads and write reviews on our personal websites instead of silos, how can we meet others who’ve read the same books and find out what books our network is reading?

Notes and thoughts from the IndieWeb Pop-Up “Personal Libraries”

Sharing what we’re reading and finding other readers online

From session facilitated by Maggie Appleton

2 different discovery challenges:

  • get recommendations from people you trust / see what people in your network are reading
  • find people to talk about the books you’re reading with

Various types of collective commentary and discussion:

  • “slow read” – asynchronous co-reading
  • shared doc for group commentary or annotation
  • combination – live event with shared doc that’s either open before the event to start highlighting things for discussion or afterwards for people to add on more thoughts

Key question: are people interested in discussing books for the social aspect or for learning? (May be a distinguishing feature between fiction and non-fiction readers)

Tummler = someone (paid) who gets audience members to participate (because no one wants to be the first one on the dance floor) –> online groups and communities can benefit from someone serving this role — social ‘lubricant’ and initiator

BookWyrm could be a platform for connecting with other readers

Posting our reading data to facilitate connection

If we’re going to aggregate reading data from personal websites, it needs to be in a useful format. I went through my current year reading list and added microformats for ‘p-author’ (I had p-title already) and ‘h-cite book’ as a class to the div. I briefly considered tagging my reviews h-review but I’m not sure how to do that in WordPress and not sure how valuable it is to bother figuring out. I can’t be fussed to include ISBN / ASIN — with a manual process there’s a limit to the amount of data I’m willing to look up and port over.

Some things I’m planning to adjust about my reading logs:

  • post on micro.blog when I start reading something
  • add a started reading date on my currently reading list
  • hotlink book cover from Open Library (heck, if they want to give their blessing for hotlinking I’ll save myself the storage)
  • consider linking to book on Open Library instead of Goodreads for reviews
  • take a photo of books I read on paper

Added 2/26/22:

I like Maggie Appleton’s suggestion of starting with our antilibraries as a way to share what books we’re interested in reading so others can find people to read along with. I haven’t been happy with my want to read page, so I’m going to rethink the format and whether I can make it more useful. I think there’s also consideration to the kinds of books I’d like to discuss with others: nonfiction or fiction or both? I’m not into literary analysis / book group kind of questions but do like discussing what I liked and didn’t like about a novel, thinking about craft and storytelling and worldbuilding.

I quickly looked into WordPress Open Library plugins and didn’t really see anything quite right. I might try out WP Books Gallery although I’m not sure adding everything manually to a plugin is a big improvement to adding everything manually to a page.

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at tracy.durnell@gmail.com. She/her.

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