I’m falling in love with the idea of Books we Like. If you see my list of recommendations growing too fast over the next few days, please tell me to get back to work. Found out about it from danah’s blog, which is excellent, and something you should all be reading. Especially if you’re interested in technology and social capital (*ahem*).

Some less wonderful things about it behind the cut. Not really worth reading, I just wanted somewhere to dump it all.

If you’re wondering about the 2nd person, it’s because I’ve lifted this from an email to bwl. My other thoughts are on danah’s blog.

1) having feedback via a form on another site (
seems fairly perverse. Putting this or another email address all over the
site seems friendlier. This is mostly my personal paranoia, but I’m never
convinced that comments I enter into a form will ever be read by anyone.

2) some way to bulk-add books would be really useful. I’d love to run along
my bookshelf and add them all, but there’s no way I’ll do that when I’d have
to add them individually, and when adding a book individually takes so many

3) there are two actions, ‘recommending’ a book, and adding it to the list of
‘books I’ve read’. But it looks like they’re trying to achieve three things
with it: saying you’ve read a book, saying whether you liked it, and
commenting on it. And because of that, people are going to start using
recommendation in different ways: some will interpret it as a comment box.
and some will interpret it as an encouragement for other people to read the

So suppose Alice reads Mein Kampf, and adds a ‘recommendation’ which says
that it isn’t just evil, but also incredibly badly-written. Bob will see
this on /books or /alice, and he’s going to interpret the fact that Alice
has written a comment as a recommendation. Unless he actually reads her
text, she won’t reallise that she actually loathes the book.

I don’t know the solution to this; it probably involves some real design
changes. One workaround would be to remove things like ‘alice recommends’
from /[user], and have recommendations function as comments. But that way,
you lose some of the ability to shout out to the world about books you love

4) they should have links out to comments on amazon and elsewhere, at least
in the early days. I’m not going to buy a book based on just one
recommendation, and that’s all I’m likely to get on bookswelike for a few

5) this is probably just a personal quirk, so don’t take it too seriously.
But I keep on entering authors in the ‘title’ field, and titles in the
‘author’ field. I suspect this is because all the library catalogues in my
university have the author field first. This is just my head being broken.

6) Searching for a book on bookswelike also has two functions: to add a book
to your list, and to find books you haven’t read yet. If you search for
books by a certain author, the results should begin with books that have
been commented on at bwl, even if these aren’t in the first ten found by
amazon. As it is, it doesn’t look as though recommendations even show up in
search results.

7) /popular looks broken, but I’m sure that’s not news.

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