This looks like an awesome tool for anyone dealing with K-12 readers (I’ve even added it to our Education subject guide, woo). :)
The vast majority (94%) of parents of minor children (children under 18) feel libraries are very important for their children, not only because they foster a love of reading, but also because they provide information, resources, and a safe place.
Our new report out today portrays the special bond that parents, especially mothers, share with libraries.
I don’t have kids but my sister does, and I know they use the library a lot—their public library had a “1,000 books before kindergarten” program and my niece (at age three!) was the first to finish. :) The reward was, naturally, a book. (No, she’s not reading on her own yet, but that will come.)
The argument for real books against virtual books is often based on the thingness of the real book — the beauty of the binding, the pleasure of handsome design and typesetting, the sensuality of turning a paper page, the pride of ownership. I sympathize with that, but I’m a reader, not a collector — I love my books (and I have lots of them) for what’s in them. Except for a few dear, battered kid’s books that both my mother and I read as children, the physical individuality of a book is pretty secondary to me.
And so, given this priority of the contents, I’ve defended the e-book and e-reading devices as an extension of, not an attack on, The Book — as augmentation, not loss or destruction.
Ursula K. Le Guin is my god.
My original thoughts from last month had a few gaps, particularly where Old Reader was concerned, so this is my gap-filler post.
Old Reader: Finished importing my feeds on March 21. By the time I got around to testing it out (April 8), it had a note about ‘keeping only fresh content’ (I didn’t copy the exact text, but that was the gist), which makes sense considering I had nearly 2000 unread posts even without them dumping some. What I found interesting, however, was its method of choosing what was “fresh content”—it seems to amount to the most recent 20-ish posts from each feed rather than going by the datestamp on posts. So an infrequently-updated blog might have content back to 2010 (!!), while a more frequently updated blog only had the most recent week. Granted, this is an unusual scenario (I don’t leave my feeds unchecked for months at a time), but it’s good to know if you are in the habit of letting things go unattended and expecting everything to be there for you when you get back. (I’ll refrain from commenting on how unreasonable an expectation that is, especially if you follow a lot of blogs that have 20+ posts per week. :)) The next/previous shortcut keys from Google Reader work here, as well.
Feedly: This has been my go-to reader, and will probably remain so. I have noticed, that despite having the “Unread Only” filter selected for my feeds, sometimes it shows me read posts. The behavior isn’t consistent, so I’m not sure why that happens, but I see it enough that I wanted to comment on it.
Conclusions: Visually, I prefer the look and feel of Feedly, and (as I said in my original post) the Firefox extension makes it even more convenient to use than Google Reader was (which is saying something!). I am crossing my fingers that they are able to have a smooth transition from using the Reader system to hosting everything on their own back-end. That remains the only unknown in this endeavor.
Runner-up is Old Reader, so if anything goes amiss with Feedly, that will be my back-up.
The difficult thing however about predicting the future of reading is that everything i’ve said so far presumes that what is being read is an “n-page” article or essay or an “n-page,” “n-chapter” book,” when realistically, the forms of expression will change dramatically as we learn to exploit the unique affordances of new electronic media. Ideally, the boundaries between reading and writing will become ever more porous as readers take a more active role in the production of knowledge and ideas.
Although we date the “age of print” from 1454, more than two hundred years passed before the “novel” emerged as a recognizable form. Newspapers and magazines took even longer to arrive on the scene. Just as Gutenberg and his fellow printers started by reproducing illustrated manuscripts, contemporary publishers have been moving their printed texts to electronic screens. This shift will bring valuable benefits (searchable text, personal portable libraries, access via internet download, etc.), but this phase in the history of publishing will be transitional. Over time new media technologies will give rise to new forms of expression yet to be invented that will come to dominate the media landscape in decades and centuries to come.
If you haven’t already heard, Google is killing off Reader as of July 1 (much wailing and gnashing of teeth has been occurring on Twitter since the news broke).
A note about my conditions of use: Windows OS, web-based, no smartphone interface needed/wanted, free, and I passed on any graphic-focused options since I mostly deal with text-based feeds.
NewsBlur: interface seems nice, but I was only given the option to activate TWELVE of the “stories” (feeds) that I had imported. I’d have to pay to actually read all my feeds—I have 84 that I follow (*after* doing some pruning). Sorry, nope.
Netvibes/Bloglines: the same thing at different URLs. Import of the OPML file from my Reader account went smoothly and seemed to preserve my organization (such as it is :)). Includes widgets that you can add; I tried out the Twitter widget (as I am also still looking for a good replacement for Echofon), but that doesn’t do what I want it to do. Overall it’s not a bad solution, particularly since the next/previous keyboard shortcuts used by Google Reader also work here.
The Old Reader: seems promising, but due to the large influx of new users, I haven’t yet been able to import my stuff to see how it will look/feel.
Feedly: syncs up to Google Reader (though they’re building their own back-end to transition to when Reader goes away), so bringing in existing info is as easy as connecting to your Google account. It has a Firefox extension so the icon is right there and accessible. The next/previous keyboard shortcuts also work here.
I reserve the option of changing my mind (especially once I get Old Reader working), but I think I’ve found my solution in Feedly. The Firefox extension is the clincher for me, since it means I don’t have to remember to go to the site (which is one reason I used Google Reader rather than anything else—it’s just right there whenever I’m in my Gmail account, which is almost always).
Sometimes you encounter an idea that seems so obvious it’s amazing that nobody has thought of it before. That’s how Yoav Lorch feels about Total Boox, his intriguing new reading platform that is about to be unveiled this March. The idea is simple: instead of paying up front for a book you may never even look at, you download it for free and then only pay according to how much of the book you read.
This sort of system would certainly make me more likely to abandon a book if I don’t like it!
But it seems like a potential hassle administratively—I mean, just how will that work technologically? How often does the device report back to the company (i.e. is it possible to finish a book and then delete the file before it registers that the entire book was read)? What if the price goes up while you’re reading something?
And the fact that, in theory, they’ll know exactly what you’re reading and when creeps me out a bit.
I don’t do reader’s advisory as part of my job, but I’m always interested in recommendations for what to read next. I’ll have to play around with these the next time I need some reading inspiration. :)