Category Archives: Technology

GoodReads Is Hiding Reviews

Over the past couple of days it has become apparent that the folks running GoodReads are hiding some book reviews. While this initially sounds really really bad, it seems to be an effort to help their members “play nice”. It’s the classic story of a few bad apples ruining it for everyone else. I’m not going to link specifically to all the posts, forums, blogs, etc. that spawned all of this, as I don’t want to join the flame wars, but I do think it’s important that we all know what and how GoodReads is changing.

GoodReads One Star Review

The impetus for the changes in policy has to do with GoodReads allowing both authors and readers to be active on the site. Authors get blogs. Readers don’t. Readers can leave reviews. Author’s can’t (but they can have secondary “personal” accounts to do reviews with, but that’s another issue).  So what’s been happening with a few passionate (and not so mature) authors is:

1. A reader pans a book on GoodReads, gives it a one star rating and maybe adds it to their “Readers to Avoid” shelf.
2. The author stumbles upon this and blogs about the negative review on their GoodReads blog, often making observations of the reviewer’s “lack of a brain”.
3. The author’s fans see this post and flock to the reviewer’s profile spewing forth bad stuff.
4. The reviewer’s friends start reviewing the author and the author’s fans’ activities (rather than reviewing the books), and things escalate.
5. The reviewer and a couple of friends get fed up and quit using GoodReads.

So what GoodReads has started doing is letting users know that their review has been hidden, if it doesn’t meet GoodReads criteria of a book review. So now, if you bash an author for their stance on importing bananas from Brazil, your review will show on your profile page and in your shelves, but not on the curated community book page, because your ‘review’ had nothing to do with the book. Also, your GoodReads friends will be able to see it, but that’s it.

This seems to ‘kind of’ fix the problem as it removes the match strike that sets these immature authors and fans off. But there is really nothing to stop these bad apples from harassing readers. I am not sure if more changes are on the way or not. We’ll have to see how all of this evolves.

I dabble on GoodReads (if you want to say ‘hi’ please do, it’s always fun chatting with other readers). But I check in on LibraryThing every day, so come join the fun over there if you haven’t already.

With Big Data Comes Big Responsibilty

This came across Twitter the other day and is so very true:

 My fear is that publishers will use the reader data they collect from eReaders the same way that Hollywood uses focus groups to make movies.

It’s no secret that some publishers are closely watching the reports of “most highlighted passage”, “most shared photos” and “where people quit reading the book”. Lots of good stuff to learn there.

But, there is a reason that the world is awash in too many books, crappy TV and weak movies. . . the people in charge of cranking out books, tv and movies are courting the largest mass of consumers they can. And for mass appeal you make something that equals the lowest common denominator (at worst) or is simply a novelty (at best).

Let’s hope that book publishers have a sense of all of these lessons and can do a fair job of making contributions to their readers’ lives and not just spewing books filled with the most profitable sentences their algorithms said they could string together

Free eBook – John Carter Barsoom Series

A few weeks ago I decided I wanted to see what all of the John Carter fuss was about. So I went looking for the first book in the series. Which, after a few Google searches, told me was A Princess of Mars. The problem was I didn’t know if I’d like it, so I didn’t want a new copy. I checked two local used-book spots and struck out. There is also a waiting list to get one of the library copies, so I turned to eBooks. I didn’t originally start here as I like old vintage sci-fi artwork and I was hoping to get something along those lines (still am).

I knew that Edgar Rice Burroughs penned the Barsoom series books a long time ago and that they would be in the public domain, so I went to Project Gutenberg first. And there it was. In eight different formats. So I grabbed a .prc file and loaded it on my device, via email. I have to say that it’s great fun so far. If you like Golden Age-styled science fiction you should check it out.

Here are links and screenshots of the various online services. It’s interesting to see them all side-by-side so you can note the similarities and differences between them.

Project Gutenberg



Google Play

Since the book is public domain all of the platforms should have copies. I have no idea if these files differ, but Kindle, Nook and Google all have free e-book versions. In fact, Kindle, Google and Project Gutenberg all allow onine in-browser reading. Something that the nook service lacks. Plus, the Kindle, Nook and Google platforms all have syncing. So if you are on page 52 on your kindle and then run an errand, you can pull out your phone app and it will sync to the right place.

I’m waiting to see how this book ends before deciding if I’m going to complete the series. Have any of you read through the series?



A Typesetter Made World’s First Audio Recording

In 1860, Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville was a typesetter (and possibly a bookseller) in Paris. He also liked to tinker, which lead him down the path of making the world’s first audio recording, using his printing tools and knowledge.

autophonograph or autophonogramPrinting and imprinting is something Scott understood very well. Capturing the song in 10 second visually-printed snippets must not have been too difficult, once he figured it out. The problem was he didn’t know how to play back what he’d recorded!

He printed all of the “grooves”, using his phonautograph on rag paper,  but no phonautograph-reader has been found.

So modern-day scientists had to cook up a way to sight-read the recordings, to what I think are pretty nifty (and spooky) sounding results.

This scenario doesn’t sound too different from today as people in the music, movie, book, web and mobile fields are crossing lines, mashing up tools and pushing boundaries to make new books and products. I just think it’s neat that the first audio recording ever made was actually printed on paper.