Monday, November 01, 2010

Bad behavior on goodreads

Recently experimented with a social network site that seemed designed just for someone like me: goodreads (yes, all lowercase). You review books, indicate what you've read, are reading, will read, and "friend" people who are either real friends, or strangers who have similar tastes, presumably to garner ideas on what to read next.

Since my post on my distrust of social network sites (which seems to be justified regularly), I've felt like I've needed to keep my eye open for some that don't proffer the usual offenses.

Alas, last night after I logged-in, goodreads did the very thing I don't like - it hit me with a login-like screen whose general message and intent was: "hey, you probably have email accounts and other social networking accounts like twitter - let's knit them all together!"

Uh, f@ck no. I just wanna piddle around with fellow avid readers, not present my web presence to the marketing behemoths at large.

Now I realize that by being online at all and creating accounts - particularly with the same moniker: "yahmdallah" - I have in a de facto sense made my online doings very trackable. Without much work, you can even find my real name. But, to me, that's not the same thing as just granting some corporate site permission to extend its tentacles into all of my online activity and grouping the websites I use. Maybe I'm kidding myself about my level of non-involvement in the corporate drive to glean all they can about me (thinking about cookies, here, which I don't nuke as regularly as I should). I'm not technically knowledgeable enough to be able to make a determination with any confidence, but if I don't let them associate all my accounts for them, I'm hoping they can only guess what's mine and what isn't.

Anyway, I deleted my account on the spot.

I was toying with that idea anyway because keeping the site up-to-date on my reading felt a LOT like homework. It did point out to me what a voracious and varied reader I really am. I've always known this, but I recorded only half of the books I actually picked up and perused when my account was live. I hit the library several times a week, and almost always walk out with a couple new ones. For the couple weeks my account was active, I'd be in the middle of a book and think "oh, I should put this on my 'currently reading' shelf on goodreads," but almost always choose to just keep reading, and I'd forget to do it later.

When I would pull up the site, I would glance over at my pile of books and think I should input the titles, but there, too, I preferred to keep on doing what I was already doing (surfing), and blew it off.

Oddly, I began to feel a tinge of guilt about this. Which is absurd as I owed no obligation to anyone in that regard.

Once I realized that, I realized that I had enjoyed putting together the list of books I'd read, but the fun had ended there. I crested at over 400 books, and that's just what I could remember the night I signed up. That was fun, and reminded me of when I worked in a bookstore, where a couple times when I was bored out of my gourd and had finished the unbelievable amount of busywork that the chain foisted upon its just above minimum wage slaves, so I went around the store and pulled out about an inch every book I'd read, just to see (this was something I was taught to do when we had to do book counts for inventory and such, as the customer doesn't know why the book is pulled forward about an inch, they usually leave it alone, and you can still see what's on the shelf). Even with a Lit degree, I hadn't expected to be as well-read or current as I was at the time. It felt good.

And it felt good to see over 400 books I had read in one place.

But there I was in the end, feeling like I had not done my homework, and it wanted to amass marketing material on my ass, at my expense. (I could already imagine the new waves of spam and "Hey, since you're interested in this, why don't you buy that?" kind of shite.)

Thus, I discovered the only other pleasant thing about goodreads: it allows you to delete your account with two clicks.


(Apologies to anyone I "friended" for leaving so abruptly.)