DigiWriMo 2014

I have committed to participating in Digital Writing Month 2014, more commonly known as DigiWriMo, this November. I did it its first year in 2012 and made my goal of 50,000 digital words. Most people who know November as a writing month know it as National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo. There is also Academic Writing Month, AcWriMo. Wikipedia says there’s an Academic Book Writing Month, AcBoWriMo but that’s a new one on me. Well, on Twitter there is no #AcBoWriMo but there is plenty of #AcWriMo.

I have been driven to write lately—perhaps driven by the mysterious and as yet undiagnosed illness; which is neither here nor there. I have so many ideas and there are tons of old ideas not finished, or ever even fleshed out, to work with.

Preparation has involved recording these ideas as they occur and corralling old recorded ones too, prepping my Scrivener project file (my writing tool), and spending more time learning to use it well.

This year my goal is ≥ 1k words/day, with a total of ≥ 25k words/November. Yes. I am aware of the missing 5 days. I am trying to be gracious with myself. [If this illness can possibly help teach me that idea then, OK, I’ll take the rest. I’m not counting on this being an actual lesson, though.]

I do not know how much I will do with the, thankfully, re-expanded DigiWriMo folks’ official efforts but I will be “playing along at home” at a minimum. I certainly hope and plan to interact a fair bit. I just have to manage my stress triggers and adding a #digiwrimo twitter search window to my already overflowing two twitter accounts for a month ….

I also recently acquired a new phone making the leap from an iPhone 4S to a 6. I had been eligible for an upgrade for well over a year and $200 was the most they were ever going to give me anymore for my 4S. Or that anyone was going to give me. For a lot of hoops and a delay of several weeks, I got to pay roughly $100 and a $35 activation fee to move from a 16GB 4S to a 64GB 6. I took that deal.

It was particularly tempting as I use both TextExpander and 1Password on my computer. They have also both been on my phone but were basically useless. Finally iOS 8 allows them both to be useful. [Sadly, I will not be putting iOS 8 on my iPad 2. It is struggling already.]

The point of all this is that having those 2 programs actually doing good work on my phone may let me use it to do just a couple more tasks than I would’ve before. Also, the bigger screen isn’t to laugh at with my old eyes. They will also allow me to more productively write digitally even though what I “write” on my phone will still be pretty damned minimal.

Some of what I write will be public, much as now although even more will be. Much will be kept private. I really want to start doing a better job of journaling, in a couple senses of ‘journal.’ I hope DigiWriMo will spur me to do so, or at least take advantage of the illness’ urging me to do so. I hope to get a few more blog posts up here and definitely more written on By the barrel.

Poetry, 2015 goal planning, book reviews, tweeting, and all sorts of other writing endeavors are on the docket. Some of the topics I hope to address, whether public or not, include Facebook, gender labels (as language), gender on labels (as in depiction of on beer labels), sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll, body image, altered consciousness, and many others. We will see what happens.

If any of you are participating in some kind of writing month in November let me know if you would like some support and hopefully we can find a mutual venue.

Two new blogs: By the barrel, and Commonplacing

I recently started two new blogs. My new beer blog is called By the barrel, or Bend Beer Librarian. It will document my journey into craft beer appreciation. My twitter handle is @bythebbl.

After having to give up on moving to WordPress Multisite—couldn’t seem to migrate this blog without breaking an unacceptable amount of things—I installed two more instances of WordPress and set to learning a lot more about configuring WP—both thematically and securely.

If you want or need to know about WordPress I sincerely (and seriously) recommend Digging into WordPress by Chris Coyier and Jeff Starr, both the ebook and the blog.

This post might give you some ideas of their value: Best of DigWP.com. Or a post I wrote here a couple years ago: Digging Into WordPress v3 and its authors rock

I have finally been able to make full use of the book and the blog, along with some other sources I found via Google. Up until today I primarily focused on By the barrel as that is a new venture I am starting and I wanted to get it out there. Although there is some tweaking left to do, I think it is ready to be ‘released.’

Be aware that I did copy six posts over from this blog that were entirely about beer and beer events. But I do have some new stuff primed and almost ready. A couple of book reviews will be leading things off. It isn’t the Bend Beer Librarian for nothing.

Commonplacing is less ready for prime time as I still need to do a lot of backend business. It is really for me and serves as my Internet commonplace book. I started it about two years ago at Posterous and then switched to Tumblr for a better workflow of getting things into it. Recently I decided I wanted full possession of my own content and as I was already starting another blog I might as well start a third. As I said, feel free to poke around and even subscribe if you like but I cannot promise anything regarding its value to others.

From now on most of the beer-related stuff will be over at By the barrel although I reserve the right to mention them here. Grab a glass of tasty beer and join me in my new excursion.

frenetic, or a comment on the New Media Citation digped of 2 Nov

digital citation in new media.
one hour, twitter,
go! #digped.

wrong tools.
tweets & convos
race past.

reflection,
@Jessifer files
Storified version.

On Friday the 2nd of November I participated in a Twitter chat on the topic of new media citation practices. It was quite “raucous” as Jesse Stommel (@Jessifer) calls it in his post at Hybrid Pedagogy. For me, it was “frenetic.” [OED online. Sense 2b: Of a quality, power, act, process, etc.: frenzied, manic; wild, passionate; rapid and energetic in an uncontrolled or unrestrained way.]

As soon as it was over I attempted to write a poem describing my experience of it. I got the first two stanzas out fairly quickly but then got no further. This morning, Jesse posted his Storified version to Hybrid Pedagogy and I read it through. I think he (and it) does a good job of capturing much of what was said, although clearly not everything was captured, as he used about a score of the total of 440 tweets.

The second stanza of the poem above reflects more my frustration with the tools I was attempting to use. I have participated in less than a handful of tweet chats previously and I was not prepared for this raucous freneticism. I was at my desktop for it—wouldn’t even begin to think of trying it on the iPad—where I use the Twitter app for Mac from Twitter. But I wanted to keep that kind of separate from what I was doing so I opened Twitter in a Chrome tab on the desktop I am using for DigiWriMo and ran a search for the #digped hashtag.

Perhaps the biggest problem was that the Twitter search on their website was not showing me tweets (or more specifically, replies) from some of the folks I follow. For example, @Jessifer’s responses to me were only showing up in the Twitter app for Mac. I figured this out fairly early as my phone was next to me and kept vibrating as I got replies that I wasn’t seeing.

Robin Wharton (@rswharton) suggested I try Tweet Chat but I, in the moment, assumed it was an app and not simply a website. Later, Sara seconded it as a good tool also. I will definitely try it the next time.

The next biggest issue, not directly related to the chat but to DigiWriMo, is that I was trying to copy my tweets and the links to them into Scrivener to save them towards my word count. This was much easier from the Twitter app than the browser. This meant switching desktops and multiple windows and …. I eventually moved the Twitter app onto the same desktop but things stayed hectic due to the volume of things going on in the chat.

On the other hand, stanza two in the poem above also reflects my firm belief that Twitter is simply not the place for such conversations. Sure, it sort of worked. If you look at the comments on this post at Hybrid Pedagogy you’ll see that a few of the participants think differently than me. And that is fine. I have had these conversations before. Twitter works great for some conversations but, at least for me, fails horribly for others.

There were so many differing, and frequently unexplicated, assumptions behind (most of) the tweets and no way to tease out philosophical, departmental, temperamental or other differences. There were, on occasion, conflations, or at least lack of specifying, between whether one was talking about a standalone bibliography (annotated or not) or one attached to a specific work (article, book, blog post, etc.). There was little actual real discussion about what purposes/roles/functions a citation actually does or should play. There was much agreement that things are, and probably should, change in academia regarding citation practices. I am fairly sure that sometimes some of us were bringing “old” media issues back into the discussion supposedly about “new media.” But I am not sure there is, or should be, a lot of difference. Certainly the how of how one goes about making a citation in many new media might frequently need to be different than how one does in a print medium, but I remain fully unconvinced that the why is different.

To me, these sorts of higher level questions are of more interest and ought also be more immediate. Once the larger issues of why—multiple reasons corresponding to different roles/functions—are sorted out, then it is time to figure out best practices (within disciplines/communities/media/etc.) for actually doing so. One of the larger questions—or perhaps more intermediate—to me then becomes answerable, or at least addressable.

Back in the day, over 5 years ago now, myself and others (and no doubt many others elsewhere including such folks as the makers of Zotero) were wondering what and how bibliographies could be of the web and not simply on it. Sadly, I never got very far with that, and all of the people involved in the conversation with me at the time have also moved on to other things, although I am willing to bet that they are still highly intrigued in how things could be different if we had better tools.

Some of my questions were:

What purposes (if any) do bibliographies serve on the web? Is there one?
What form should web-based bibliographies take to support those purposes?
Should embedded COinS or some other OpenURL or similar technology be employed?
What would be the best way to present our literature in a web-based bibliography that might entice you to read some of it?

I was also trying to get at things better tools could do for us and allow us to do. My brilliant friend, Jodi Schneider, hit the nail on the head, as usual, with her comment:

Ok: in my ideal bibliography system:

You would be able to:
* filter, search, and sort items by any metadata field.
*select any subset of the bibliography (including the whole thing)
*and do actions on the whole or your selection

Here are some actions I would want:
*download citations to your own collection (online or locally hosted on your own computer)
*mark the subset for later use in the online system
*search the full-text of all items in the subset. Results would show KWIC snippets and could generate subsets for further actions
*add all references to your collection (preserving field structure)
*use an associated “bibliography processor” to download all the associated items. Your processor would be able to authenticate for your library access and individual subscriptions. It would create a new subset of problem items, for manual inspection, which could easily be passed to other services (like ILL).

Other bibliography thoughts:
*free online resources and subscription resources would be distinguished by an icon
*a good bibliography should give a sense of the field–clustering and facets may help with this, and leveraging the structured data (e.g. by journal, tags/descriptors, etc.)

If we had tools that easily pulled citations, references, links, pointers out of new media documents, web pages, reference managers, and what-have-you, and that easily added them to other documents, whether web-based or not (prior to printing, of course) and that allowed us to easily manipulate sets and subsets of them and to perform assorted actions on them easily, then not only would our lives be easier (and, arguably perhaps, better) but much of the discussion that took place in the tweet chat would be moot.

Only the larger questions of why we would cite or compile bibliographies would remain, along with some issues of formatting. But, despite the amount of effort that goes into formatting citations into the almost innumerable styles that are out there, the reasons for specific formatting styles is rarely ever known by most users of them, and even less frequently ever actually theorized (and how much of this formatting is just bullshit wasted effort in the first place?). We truly need to get rid of about 95% (or more!) of the styles that exist for formatting citations (in any medium) and revisit the why of the specific how of doing so, with good and proper reasoning for each choice.

Ah. Now Mark the librarian and inveterate footnote/citation tracer is talking. ::sigh:: I think for now I’ll just wander off of this obviously passionate topic. It seems clear that many of my first-order concerns with citation practices are not the same ones as many of those who participated in the chat. And that is perfectly OK, too.

I do want to add that I did, though, despite the poem or any of the above comments, enjoy myself in the chat. It was just a very frenetic enjoyment which could have been helped by better tools.

“Better tools.” Maybe that ought be the title of this post.

 

DigiWriMo … and we’re off!

I had heard of Digital Writing Month (DigiWriMo) before attending THATCamp Hybrid Pedagogy in the back half of October but I heard a lot more about it there. Both halves of that comment are due to the fact that some of the main folks that organized THATCamp HP are also the folks behind Hybrid Pedagogy: A Digital Journal of Technology & Teaching and are the prime movers behind DigiWriMo. On the morning of 27 October I decided to commit and made my pledge at http://www.digitalwritingmonth.com/

What have I committed to?

“… to [digitally] create 50,000 words in the thirty short days of November.” As the DigiWriMo page states, “You will conspire, collaborate, co-author, cooperate, collude, and even compete to reach your goal in whatever form you see fit: blog posts, text message novellas, code poems, Twitter poems, wiki novels, some creative wizardry of text and image, and more!”

My primary intended output is blog posts. But I certainly hope to try my hand at poetry, including Twitter poems, perhaps a short Twitter ‘novella’ or two, and I don’t know what else. I hope to be inspired by some of the exercises they provide and by what others actually write.

Some of my currently intended subjects include our move to Bend, digital scholarly editions, THATCamp Hybrid Pedagogy, ACRL-OR/WA 2012 conference, book reviews and a wrap-up of, and commentary on, the Two-Thirds book Challenge, Facebook Pages, a possible dive down into “narratives,” but that may involve more research than I have time for in such a busy writing month, and barrel-aged beers.

I will be using Scrivener, which I got in the recent MacHeist 4 Bundle, for my writing and to keep track of it. I am not sure I truly need Scrivener for the writing I do but I have heard great things about it and wanted to try it. Considering I got it and a lot of other software, including a 15 month extension to Evernote Pro ($60 value), which I do use, all for $29 I am quite pleased.

If you are looking for tips on writing, and they are prolific on the Internet, perhaps you can find something useful at LINKS OF THE WEEK – DIGITAL WRITING MONTH EDITION at ivry twr blog. That post also brought me to How I Went From Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day at Pretentious Title blog, which has some good advice for all even though it is primarily aimed at fiction writers. Nonetheless, it seems clear to me that Knowledge (of what you intend to write), Time (understanding when/where/how you are most productive), and Enthusiasm (for what you intend to write) are all clearly important to helping one right effectively and efficiently.

Other related writing challenges going on this month are NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and AcWriMo (Academic Writing Month).

I wish everyone the best with whatever and wherever their writing undertakings take them this month. I hope to see you around the Internets and look forward to the twitter chats ( #digiwrimo ) and the supportive atmosphere and may we all inspire one another.

Got unglue.it?

My tl;dr point:

If only 1/10th of all the librarians attending ALA Annual this coming week pledged $1 to Oral Literature in Africa by Ruth H. Finnegan (1970) then it would be successful.

So, you may not have heard, but there’s this thing called unglue.it.  Or maybe you have but have yet to look into it. It officially launched May 17th.

unglue (v. t.) 4. For an author or publisher, to accept a fixed amount of money from the public for its unlimited use of an ebook. (From their main page)

I am MarkLindner there and am a very early supporter.

What you can do

You can support the ungluing of books so that the resulting ebooks rights are Creative Commons licensed so readers everywhere may enjoy free and legal access to these works. See this page as a good starting point for more info. The set of faq pages are also a great place to find more information whether you are a reader, an author or a rights holder.

As an account holder, you can add books to your wishlist, support books others have already added, and pledge to support the ungluing of specific works. Since the site just recently launched there are currently 5 active campaigns.

Each campaign includes assorted premium levels, much like Kickstarter. See, for instance, this page for Love Like Gumbo by Nancy Rawles. In all cases (so far), for only a $1 pledge you will get a copy of the resulting ebook if the campaign is successful. For increasing amounts you get other things on top of a copy of the book.

If you are on my actual blog (vs. feedreader, etc.) you can see in my right sidebar widget area that you can also embed widgets for books on active campaigns and those on your wishlist. I currently have two, one for the book I am currently pledged for and one for Patrick Wilson’s Two Kinds of Power which I so very much want University of California Press to … well, do the right thing by.

Why I am supporting unglue.it

I became a member as soon as I saw the official announcement for beta testers (I had been reading about the idea in advance) at Eric Hellman’s blog: go to hellman. There is, of course, now an unglue.it blog where you can read about each of the campaigns and other things.

I have no idea if this model can work but I want it to. Sara and I support a fair few projects via Kickstarter also and we think that crowdfunded projects are a great way to show artists, authors, and assorted rights holders that people do want to support them while getting a quality product for a fair price and that they are willing to put their wallets where their mouths (or computer clicks) are.

During the beta testing there was a call to help test the pledge mechanisms and payment processes (currently via Amazon Payments) and I helped out. I made a pledge for $5, I increased it to $25, and then I decreased it to $10. We were asked to do such wishy-washy things to stress test their systems. The primary premium was a copy of a chapter Eric Hellman wrote called “Open Access EBooks” for a book by Sue Polanka. Increasing premiums were things like unglue.it stickers, autographed stickers, and so on. I was able to provide some useful feedback and left my pledge at $10 so they might have a (very) small bit of operating funds.

When the site went live and first five campaigns were announced I must admit I was a little disappointed. I wasn’t deeply interested in any of those works. I mean they all looked interesting enough but with hundreds of books on hand and thousands more not immediately on hand that I know I want to read they weren’t intriguing enough to me to pledge for any of them. I justified my not contributing by my participation in the beta pledge.

Friday I changed my mind and pledged $7 to Oral Literature in Africa by Ruth H. Finnegan (1970)Why?

  1. I really truly want this model to succeed. To do so they need to be successful early on and this work currently has the most chance of being so.
  2. I am actually truly interested in this book even if it isn’t that high on the priority of the oh so lengthy to-be-read list.
  3. They bribed me. :P They offered some additional pledge incentives, one of which was the $7 level which would give me a copy of this ebook, if successful, and a choice of another ebook from the publisher. Oooh, this is the other book I’ll hopefully get myself.
  4. Did I mention that early success is critical to demonstrate to authors and rights holders that this model is a workable one?

What I would like you to do

Please have a look around the unglue.it site. Read the about page, poke at the faqs, look at the bios of the people involved, peruse the blog, check out the books in the active campaigns.

But most importantly, pledge something for one or more of these books. It shouldn’t really matter if you are even personally interested in any of these titles. If the campaigns are successful then these books will be free, as ebooks, for anyone. And surely you know someone you could give a copy of one (or more) of them to. $1 is all it takes!

If you are a librarian, a reader, or an ebook reader, then imho you really ought be contributing to the success of this model. It isn’t the only way forward but it can be a great start. But only if people like us make it one!

If only 1/10th of all the librarians attending ALA Annual this coming week pledged $1 to Oral Literature in Africa by Ruth H. Finnegan (1970) then it would be successful.

We have only 5 days left to make this a success. Won’t you be a part of something this important?

Blog redesign and other putterings

I know most of you never see this site anymore and if/when you do see my posts you are probably seeing them in a feed reader. That’s OK. I probably read about 50% of the blogs I follow in Google Reader and 50% at the blog itself (by clicking through). To get a feel for a new blog or to read one I know is well-designed (say, Walt at Random or via negativa), I’ll click through for the better aesthetic experience.

All that said, I am redesigning my blog. I have scrapped the old Cutline theme that I have used since November 2006. Wow! Really‽

I am using the Twenty Eleven theme from WordPress but along with the Twenty Eleven with Sidebar in Posts child theme. I have been doing some tweaking to it—kind of the point of a child theme—but still want to do more.

I have made some headers, which rotate, from some of my photos and plan on doing more. I am hoping to use a Google Web Font (still need to choose which one) for my blog title. If that works, I may consider finding one for the main text of the blog but I am concerned with loading overhead. I am currently using Georgia for body text, which I like a lot better than the sans serif font the theme uses by default, but Georgia really isn’t that great of a serif font.

I still need to restyle some H3 elements I have used as heading within posts previously as they are kind of small and light, add post counts to the Archives page, take the “!” off the Contact Me! page, do a bit more adjusting of the header area, along with changing the font to something nicer up there, and a few other things. I have added the citation for the inspiration of the title to the tagline area but I’d prefer it to be part of the title properly. We’ll see.

If you are so inclined, please feel free to actually visit the blog and provide any thoughts on aesthetics, location of elements/widgets, etc., missing/preferred elements/widgets, etc. Keep in mind, though, that this is a fairly responsive design and will look different depending on screen resolution, size, etc. For instance, the sidebar items all shift to the bottom on our iPads to leave plenty of room for the body.

 

Constructing my Books Read in 2010 post

Constructing my previous post, Books Read in 2010, was far too difficult.  Still.

I keep a simple running list of books I read in VoodooPad, a personal wiki, on my laptop.  I record them by date started, author’s last name and title.  When I finish I add that date.  At some point I look them up in a library catalog—generally WorldCat nowadays—and bring them into Zotero and add them to a folder titled Books Read in 20xx.

In the past I have exported that folder from Zotero as a bibliography in HTML and pasted it into WordPress.  With some minor editing I got a decent bibliography including COinS data for every title.  But somewhere along the line over the last year or two things have gone wonky and some interaction between the COinS-formatted HTML from Zotero and WordPress have caused much of that data to be stripped out.  Last year was a real pain and seeing as this year my list was 20-some-odd percent longer I could not face all of that work simply to have much of it disappear no matter how much wrangling and struggling I did.

My next thought was that I would simply use the OpenBook plugin by John Miedema that I am using for book reviews [example post].  I was not looking forward to plugging one hundred or so ISBNs into its input form one at a time but it was in theory doable. [This was due more to how much work I had already done verifying ISBNs, "correcting" those in Zotero and pasting a copy of the ISBN into the text file created with the bibliography exported from Zotero than it was the effort to use the plugin.]

So I ran a little test trying a few “random” ISBNs from the list to see what the Open Library records looked like and/or if they had records for some of my less popular titles.  The results were horrible!  I estimated I would have to add records for at least 20 titles and fix records on 2 to 3 times that many.  I began slowly poking away at them over the course of a couple days—days when I should have been doing other things of course—and although my estimates were highly accurate I got it done.

At some point in my cataloging I noticed that Open Library had recently added a lists feature.  I thought perhaps I’ll just make a list there and point my blog readers to it; although that did strike me as rather dismal.  Of course, I noticed the list feature after I had added or re-cataloged somewhere around 30 books; which meant I had to look them all up again individually to add them to my new list.  ::sigh::

Then I discovered that you can export a list in either JSON, HTML or BibTex.  Sadly I know little to nothing about either JSON or BibTex so if they would have made my life easier—without a steep learning curve first—then I did myself a disfavor by using HTML.

Well, the HTML needed a lot of massaging to look decent once imported into WordPress.  As the native page exported by Open Library it looks OK, but WordPress treats those h3s, spans and divs much differently. [Technically not an export but a simplified page generated from your main list that you can save and/or copy from the source.]

I believe the titles are in the list in the order I entered them, or something close to that anyway.  Sadly, that order bears no relation to anything useful.  Thus, I had to cut and paste the whole list into the order I wanted.  Then I started playing with layout to see what would look decent enough in WordPress.  Once I figured it out I started changing the divs and h3s to spans and removing all the extraneous white space.  By hand.  TextEdit was of no use in the white space changing game.  As I was getting really tired of all the mousing, etc. involved I remembered that Dreamweaver might do a much better job with white space in find and replace.  With hope I fired up the long disused copy of DW and opened my file.  I highlighted a group of white space and a tag to change, hit ⌘-C to copy it, hit ⌘-F to open Find and Replace, saw that the white space was intact, put the cursor in the replace box, hit ⌘-V to paste the same in, deleted the white space I wanted removed, and hit OK.  It did what I wanted so I had it fix the rest of those and went on to the next bit needing fixed.  Thankfully Open Library had been consistent in how and where it added the white space.

After that it was rather simple to verify my data and do the odd minor correction here and there.  As for the ebooks, I pulled those out of my original list exported from Zotero and ginned them up in a text file with links to each book in feedbooks.  Yes, Open Library has ebooks but from what I could find not a single one from feedbooks.  I could have added them but I was in no mood to add another 18 books, and cataloging free ebooks that give absolutely no indication of which text they are was not something I intended to undertake.  Ebooks are great in many contexts!  Ebook metadata is in a despicable state! [That is a rant for another, and previous, occasion.]

Once I had the ebooks fully ginned up in the text file I cut and paste them into the blog post where they went in the list.  Then I wrote the text that went along with the list and waited for the end of the year a few days away.  On the 31st I made a few minor corrections to the list since I finished one of the books I had given up on and added another that I read on the 30th and 31st.  I also fixed the numbers/commentary regarding the other two books and added a bit more commentary.

Sadly, the only COinS data available is for the post itself and I doubt many of you are truly interested in adding my post to Zotero, Mendeley, or whatever.

If I had used OpenBook I could have had COinS.  But I got distracted by needing to fix so many records at Open Library and then by finding the Open Library list feature.  After spending so much time futzing and seeing what it would do for me I had given up on Open Library.  Honestly, I had no desire to copy and paste 100+ ISBNs into it one by one either.  Still, I wonder how well it would have handled the job? [John, if you are still reading, any idea how the plugin might handle 100+ titles using template 5, embedded? Certainly wouldn't want to be making all those calls to OL live.]

None of this is meant to take away from the OpenBook plugin for which I greatly thank John Miedema!

It makes me sad that it is 2011 and this task is still so darn difficult.  Much progress has been made in the sharing and linking to book data on the web but it is still so crude.  Much of the assorted quasi-FRBRization going on in places like Open Library, WorldCat, goodreads, Library Thing, etc. actually seem to make it worse.  If one only cares about pointing at a title/work then things are somewhat better.  But I cared about editions long before I became a cataloger.  In most cases if someone takes a recommendation from me I could care less which edition of the work they read or listen to in the end.  But in some cases it does matter.  And for my own purposes I want to know which manifestation(s) of the work I engaged with.

Some day the future may arrive and making a list like this in which the titles will bring their own (accurate) metadata along with them will be easy. That day simply has to arrive. Soon.

Then again, I’m still waiting on the flying car I was promised almost 50 years ago.

Books Read in 2010

This list of books that I finished this year is based on the date I started reading each book. Though they were generally finished in something close to this order, some books took much longer than others. I finished a total of 102 books in 2010. Five of these were re-reads.

I read 85 print books and 17 ebooks (epub) this year. I gave up on 3 print books and 2 ebooks (epub), although one of the print books was really just interrupted. I placed it on my 12 Books, 12 Months Challenge list [see below] and I will begin that one again. I am also working my way through a pdf book, Digging into WordPress v3 which is not included on this list.

My ebook reading is off due mostly to changes in travel and other lifestyle-related issues. I have not become averse to ebooks in any way, they simply do not fit my current lifestyle as much as they once did. All of the ebooks I read this year were epub formatted free books from feedbooks.com (except for the one pdf book).

Of the two ebooks I did not finish, one was Lady Chatterley’s Lover which I discovered about halfway into it that it was an expurgated version. Sara who was also reading it as an ebook found an unexpurgated print copy and started over. Although I was somewhat enjoying the story, I did not find it that compelling so said the heck with it. The other was Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women. While this is an important work, she just droned on and on. There are far better examples of effective literature in this genre, even if few this early.

In August a friend of mine introduced the 12 Books, 12 Months Challenge to begin in September. Here is my post accepting the challenge. Is it really any wonder that mine is a baker’s dozen? Here is my list at goodreads, at Open Library, and the 12 Books, 12 Months tag here on the blog. This small image for 12 Books 12 Months designates a book on my list.

If I wrote a ‘review’ here on the blog I have linked to it after the entry for the book as [Review]. All of the 12 Books, 12 Month Challenge books that I have read so far (7) have been reviewed here. There are more reviews at goodreads but most are simple commentary and I am too lazy to go find them and link them. [Do not get me started on the amount of work required to generate, much less format, the following list!]

I received four of these books via the Library Thing Early Reviewers program. They are identified by “Library Thing Early Reviewer copy” and a link to the review at Library Thing.

I read 31 books of poetry, not including the one for weddings. I also read 2 books about poetry (Oliver and Kooser), not including the one on syntax. The author I read the most by is the poet Mary Oliver with 13 titles (12 poetry, 1 about poetry). The author in 2nd place is Roy Harris with 6, four of which were re-reads. The author in 3rd place with 3 titles seems to be Conan Doyle, all ebooks. Perhaps I missed someone else with 3 titles though. There were several authors with 2 books each in my list: Jim Harrison, Wilkie Collins, Anne Carson, Pablo Neruda, ….

How It Seems To Me – Book review and OpenBook trial

I have been wanting to try the OpenBook plugin for WordPress for a while now. When I came back to blogging a few months ago John Miedema posted on his own blog that he was working on version 3 so I decided to wait. Well, he released v3 a couple of days ago so I decided I best step up.

I installed it a few minutes ago, grabbed the handiest book that I recently finished reading and here we are. In this post I chose to embed the HTML instead of having it make a live call to Open Library.

Phil Hey is a professor of English and writing at Briar CLiff University, where Sara works. A week or two back we had the privilege of going to a poetry reading by Phil where we picked up this book and a chapbook of his St. Francis feast day poems [BCU is a Franciscan Catholic university.].  Each year on St. Francis feast day (Oct. 4) Phil gets up at first light and writes a poem, which he collected into a chapbook last year.

I quite enjoyed these poems. They are very natural and primarily focused on the Midwest, small town, and positive feelings. But as one of the blurbs says on the back cover [James Autry]: “In these poems, Phil Hey offers his unconditional and uncompromising Midwestern sensibility without limiting the work in any way that could be described as ‘regional.’ I highly recommend this work.”

Follow-up of iPad use at ILA conference

This a followup to my Iowa Library Association Conference post from last week, which was written on an iPad (at home), about the use of the iPad at the conference.

All in all, it worked great. Thankfully, there was fairly reliable wifi in both the hotel proper and the conference center portion of the Coralville Marriott (which, by the way, is wholly owned by the city of Coralville. Nice!).

I never did figure out how to make a link in the WordPress app but then I never tried again either.

I primarily used the iPad to take notes and to check email, RSS feeds, twitter and facebook. The iPad came configured with lots of apps on it from the Briar Cliff University (BCU) Library, most of which I had no interest in or needed to use.

I used Safari to log into GMail, an app called Reeder for logging into GReader, Twittelator for twitter, and friendly for facebook. For note taking I used Plain Text. The beauty of Plain Text, besides being free, is that it syncs with DropBox automagically. Thus, no worries about what device I am on or if I forgot to get my notes off of the iPad before returning it the library where it was completely wiped and reset to the default setup when I returned it.

Now this setup—in some cases there were alternate apps available—worked for me as I just had to log into these assorted apps with my account info and I was ready to go.

On the other side of the usability and convenience fence, there were two things I did not like or didn’t work well.  The minor one is that in friendly (facebook) there was no F.B. Purity. I swear by F.B. Purity. Facebook still sucks somewhat with it (it is facebook after all) but I despise trying to find the value in facebook without F.B. Purity installed and up-to-date.

The more major issue was that 750words just did not want to act right on the iPad. To even begin to use it at all we used Atomic Browser (paid version)—which is more useful on the iPad than on my Touch—and told it to report itself as desktop Safari. Leaving it set as a mobile browser meant it wasn’t going to work. Even with setting it to spoof as a desktop version of Safari it still had issues.

What I was attempting to do, and was ultimately successful at doing with some heartache, was to copy and paste my notes from that day’s sessions/sightseeing into 750words. It did not like that at all. It would only show a small portion of what had been pasted in, there was no way to force a save, and eventually it would show you all of the text pasted in but the word count stayed at what you had written by hand, if any. You had to leave and come back and then maybe nothing was there or perhaps it had updated but you had to log in again because it wasn’t remembering that you had just been there. In the end it worked but it was a pain in the rear.

In summary, I have several online accounts for which there are multiple apps available that only require one to log in and be on your way. The iPad as set up by the BCU Library worked great for me at this conference, but my needs were reasonably light.