Archive | October, 2011

Sharing Scribblings in the Digital Margins

30 Oct
#360 perhaps you do not need to write all over library books by romana klee

Photo credit to romana klee

I’ve had a hard time getting excited about things recently, but was lucky enough to stumble across Findings and its gotten my head buzzing.

The newest advancement in digital, literary culture, Findings is a website/app/digital service/what have you that allows you to share your margin notes with others across the community of readers, opening up the potential for reading to be a more dynamic and engaging experience that ever before.

WritingEven since reading Good Omens, I’ve been interested in the possibility of interactive marginalia.  In the story, a family passes a book down through the generations, each scribbling his own notes in the margins, often having contentious discussion of particular passages that last for generations.  (Yes, I recognize that that’s a very selective telling of Good Omens, but I thought it’d take too long to explain angels, demons, and the new four horsemen of the apocalypse.)

Although it’s always seemed like marginalia was a conversation, it never truly was, it was always uni-directional.  The first person that reads a book writes something and the next is left to either ignore the comment or reply to it.  (I guess the first person could then read it again and they could go back and forth ad nauseum, but books that are worth that level of attention are rare, indeed.)  So, with marginalia, as it currently stands, there’s no true back and forth; there’s acting and reacting.  But, Findings allows us to all have our own clean draft to respond to, and then the ability to selectively turn on (and off) others’ comments.

As a society, we talk about where were you at certain moments, at those historical moments that so define our collective psyche (9/11, the moon landing, the fall of the Berlin Wall), that the divide our lives into before and afters.  But, I’d argue that there are moments in books that can be those defining moments in our lives, too.  Especially those pivotal moments in the the bildugnsromans that we read as teenagers.  The stories of growing up that are part of every high school English curriculum.  How did you feel when they murdered Piggy?  Or when George killed Lenny?  When you first read The Lottery and realized what exactly the “prize” was?   Or when Boo saved Scout?  (Personally, I was really confused on that one and had to read it over a few times before I could get passed my initial reaction: Why is she dressed as meat?)  For readers, those are defining moments, but we analyze them after the fact, in a generalized way.  Respond to the events of Chapter 5.  What was the central theme of the novel?  Was this novel romantic, realistic, or naturalistic?  Discuss.

Marginalia by serikotik1970

Photo credit to serikotik1970

I want to have conversations with people’s real honest reactions, not those that they prepare for a teacher after the fact.  I want to get to know my friends (and thoughtful strangers) through their books and through their notes.  I want to read their scribbling in the digital margins.  I’ve written that I worry that the move from paper to digital paper will fundamentally change the way that we read, that sometime tactile and beautiful will be lost.  I still fear for the loss or musty paper and old fashioned type faces, for judging a book by its weight as well as its cover, but maybe well gain something wonderful in the move to ebooks, too.  Maybe books will become vehicles for true multi-directional communication.  Just think of the possibilities for choose your own adventure books…

Questions of the day: What book moments stand out in your life?  Do you write in your books?  And why is Scout dressed as meat?


MaggieCakes is a blog about social media, marketing, culture, and what’s new on the internet written by me, Maggie O’Toole.  Every day (okay, I try for every day) I comb blogs and news outlets for the news about internet culture and social media to bring them to you (with my commentary, of course) here on MaggieCakes. Find anything interesting in the worlds of culture or social media that you’d like to see a post on? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail at 2maggieotoole@gmail.com.

A Digital Life in a (Pre) Analog World

29 Oct

Since this post is just about my life in Dover, I've decide to illustrate it with pictures I've taken on my wanderings around town. So, I guess they're all credit to me.

Oh, my blog, I’ve been neglecting you.  I have lots of excuses as to why, but basically it comes to this: it’s hard to write about things that inspire you when you’re not feeling very inspired.  It’s hard to write about things that make you think when you haven’t really been thinking. Continue reading

OpenGraph and Conformity

14 Oct

Or, Invasion of the Brain Snatchers

kid listening to headphones

Photo credit to vagawi

Recently, I read a post called “Is it time for an anonymity movement to challenge Facebook?”  Although the (very great) points of the post ranged far and wide, the part that stuck with me was this section about Facebook and conformity:

But having the ambition to display the whole life of their users is just insane.  Take Spotify, for example!  Sharing the music you’re listening to seems great, right?  Just put yourself in the shoes of a shy 16-year-old guy; what is he going to do to impress others and fit in?   He’s going to listen to the same music that everyone else is listening to, so as not to seem “weird” at all via his very public Facebook profile.

Imagine that he may stop listening to what he really likes because he will be ashamed to share his real taste in music, unless he is one of the rare users that figures out how to stop the feed from Spotify to Facebook.

Now take this concept and duplicate it for tastes in TV, movies, places to eat … maybe with just about everything.

Facebook is on track to homogenize society, which conversely, and ironically, may “weaken” the database that Facebook is building and the advertising targeting that they are offering! Continue reading

Harry Potter Poked You Back

8 Oct

Or, SocialSamba brings characters to (digital) life

Last Action HeroRecently, a new social network launched.  SocialSamba gives you a social media space to interact with your favorite characters.  (Social media, characters, fanfic overtones … obviously I am way excited about this.)

The Social Times article that introduced me to SocialSamba started off with:

“Have you ever wished that you could be friends with the characters from your favorite movies and TV shows in real life?  Until recently this was impossible—after all, these characters don’t actually exist outside of the TV shows and movies you love.”

Wait what?  You’re saying that they’re not real?!  Must I introduce you to Six Characters in Search of an Author? Continue reading

Frictionless sharing and the end of Social Media Curation

2 Oct
Sharing by talkingplant

Photo credit to talkingplant

In my last post, I discussed how frictionless sharing without context was meaningless.  How an app posting that “Maggie read this” really only meant “Someone on Maggie’s computer clicked on this”.

But frictionless sharing means a lot more than meaningless oversharing, it’s also the end of social media curation.

Since the rise of social media, we’ve all become curators – we’ve become the scrapbookers and librarians of our own lives, learning to research, present, and display material in a meaningful and engaging way.  Continue reading

Frictionless Sharing, Social without Context

1 Oct
Sharing by bengrey

Phtoto credit to bengrey

Or, Open Graph is sharing without the caring

In Mark Zuckerberg’s world, everything is a social experience.  Listening to a song?  Would it be better if a friend was listening to it, too?  Reading an article?  Would it be great if your friends could read the same one?  (Also, wouldn’t it be great is Mark could make some money on that happening?)

Well, Mark’s world is quickly becoming out world.  And in Mark’s world, the default is social.  (Do you ever feel bad for his college roommate?  Did he announce things like “Mark is cutting his toenails,” or “Mark is eating pizza”?) Continue reading

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