Last weekend when I logged onto the computer, I saw my world crashing down. Hours of labor gone. The blackboard erased.
Here’s what I saw.
Goodbye, Shelfari and thanks for the last eight years.
I’m the first to admit that I don’t care about the social network component. Occasionally people have reached out to recommend books or authors have asked for feedback on their work. Well, this was back four or five years ago when people actually used the site. I’m guessing that some people thought that Shelfari went the way of MySpace years ago. Yet it hung on, the ugly stepsister to Goodreads.
If it’s not for social networking, and it’s not for the technology, per se, why will I miss Shelfari?
-For three years before I joined Shelfari, I kept a word document where I wrote a list of all titles I read. In parentheses, I’d put a one word description of the type of book, but there was no real summary. It was unwieldy and long. Shelfari loads the book and helpfully includes all publication information and a summary.
-I am an oddly (some have said freakishly) visual learner. While I may not remember the names of characters in a book I’ve read, I can describe the cover and shape in detail. This is a skill that is hugely helpful working as a school librarian, but Shelfari gives me a quick reminder when I can picture a book but can’t immediately draw up the title in my mind.
-It’s fun to examine the stats and make sure that I’m reading across a range of genres. It’s also easy to see if there are certain “types” of books that I rate higher than others. Basically it provides me the data to metacognitively examine my reading patterns.
-But really it all boils down to my comfort with the site. I wasn’t going to leave until I was forced out.
I think about this frequently with kids and the “must have” messaging apps. To communicate with my best friend in Germany, I was happy with the Viber app until she stopped using it. I followed her to Telegraph. If she finds something new, I’ll diligently follow along. The important part is the function of the technology, not the name brand.
What bothered me most as I opened my screen and the pink bar jumped forth was not the demise of Shelfari, but the immediate realization of the tenuous connection that I have in maintaining access to all sorts of my data online.
My YahooMail account with emails from the last 15 years? Backup photos on Shutterfly? Google Drive files from presentations I’ve given? Podcast recommendations on Wunderlist? I already lost access to all the library’s Delicious links I so diligently marked and labeled years ago because I got locked out my account when I got a new computer. The cloud giveth, and the cloud can taketh away. I reminded that the best protection for preservation of data, physical or virtual, is having it located in more than one place. And it’s good to have that as a reminder rather than as a cautionary tale.
In good news, I did click on the link in the pink bar.
I downloaded my data to a csv file and imported it. This is easier than work I do with technology on a daily basis. Also, they actually do it for you, linking your account through Amazon. It’s just button pushing step by step. Plus, now you’ll be able to find me, and maybe I can get into the social side of reading recommendations. Welcome to Goodreads, and remember to back up your data.