Twenty-Three Things: Activity 21: [GoodReads]

I’ve challenged some of my colleagues to take the 23 Things challenge to become more invested in online learning this summer. This website includes a 10-week game plan for learning some online learning and presenting methods that are useful for teachers, and that are appropriate activities for the age group we teach. There are other 23 Things lists out there, I know, but this is the one that we’ve chosen to work with, and that I’ve decided to complete.

The previous entries in this series are here:

  1. Getting Started
  2. Discovery
  3. Setting Up a Blog
  4. Starting with Flickr
  5. Find some Flickr Toys and Tools
  6. Blog about the role of tech in your classroom
  7. Initial experiment with RSS Readers
  8. RSS Readers continued
  9. Cloud Computing
  10. Web 2.0 Activty
  11. YouTube & Video
  12. Podcasts
  13. eBooks
  14. Wikis (a disaster story)
  15. Wiki Sandbox
  16. Tagging Links: Delicious
  17. Tagging Links: Technorati
  18. Twitter
  19. Twitter in Education
  20. Image Generators

Activity 21: Shelfari and GoodReads

So… I’m supposed to be doing this activity in this project with Shelfari.  I’m sure Shelfari is quite nice. Really I am. But I already have an account on GoodReads, and Shelfari belongs to Amazon.com.  Actually, as of this writing, I think GoodReads belongs to Amazon, as well.  See what I mean about how radically changed the world wide web has become in six years?  It seems like an unimaginably vast amount of time where an entire website can go up, run for several months, and then vanish again in the space of a year.

Anyway, GoodReads.  On GoodReads, I can rate books, share recommendations for other books with other people, and post my book recommendations to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites so that other people can follow my book recommendations, and maybe read the things that I read, and perhaps join a conversation about them with me.

Wow… we used to call that blogging.

So… why should I write reviews on GoodReads, or send my students to write reviews on GoodReads, or post my reviews from GoodReads to Facebook?  Is there any good reason for doing this at all?

It feels like feeding my students to the maw of corporate interest: here, while you’re still kids, generate creative and critical content for free for the corporate interest of the largest online bookseller in the world; write reviews of everything you read, which is mostly mass-market Young Adult literature, and avoid reading anything serious (because who would review a century-old book?)

Not that I read century-old books, mostly.  I’m suddenly realizing that I read a lot of how-to art books, technical books, and books about magic and mythology, and darned little else.  Fiction has largely ceased to interest me as a reader; I still read a lot of history books, mostly biographies and mise en place surveys of eras, like David McCullough’s books about the American REvolution, or similar works.  I used to read lots of current-events analysis, but by and large I don’t believe those analyses any more.  I don’t find them compelling, now that I don’t live in that world.

I’m slowly becoming a non-reader, the kind of person I dreaded encountering as a kid.

It’s not true, of course.  I’m glancing up at my bookshelves, and I can see seven or eight books that I’ve read in the last six months, like 1493 by Charles Mann, and The Traditional Healer’s Handbook, by Hakim G.M. Chishti, and Sacred Geometry  by Skinner, and The Creative Habit, by Twyla Tharp, and GameStorming by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown, and James Macanufo.  But none of these are suggestive of a rich attention to fiction or to the common stories of our time.

Maybe that’s why I didn’t like image generators.

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