Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Relevance of Facebook

This tweet came across my tweetdeck the other day

Facebook continues to grow less relevant for me...

and it really got me thinking about the relevance of Facebook in my own life. I have had a like/ambivalence relationship with Facebook (love/hate implies a far greater emotional investment than I'm willing to lay claim) ever since I joined to "check it out" at the request of a friend concerned about her daughter. I've lived through the poking, super-poking, sheep-throwing insanity at the beginning. I've tolerated the endless quiz, forward to 10 friends and cause requests that followed. Yes, there was a time when Facebook seemed entirely irrelevant.

However that tide, for me at least, is seeming to turn. The parents in my community are beginning to harness the power of FB as a community building and communication tool. Status updates are a mix of personal quips and community information broadcast. The ambient awareness that status updates provide has afforded me the opportunity to reach out and help friends that I might not of otherwise known needed help. Sharing links has moved past the "cutest thing on youtube" and now includes interesting articles, relevant information and even recipes for supper. Groups are springing up to address everything from swapping/trading your no longer needed kid stuff to farm wives supporting each other through the harvest season. Facebook fanpages such as this one have the potential to connect parents to school, sports or clubs in a whole new way. Yes a lot has changed since I was first super poked.

I would have never guessed in those early days of FB that it would become an indispensable tool in my trusty parent toolbelt.

The irrelevant is turning relevant at an extremely fast pace.

Unless of course someone starts hurling sheep at me again ..

I'd love to know.. where do you stand on the FB continuum? Is it growing less or more relevant in your day to day life?

Eye Poking via flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/kt/8664365/
Flying Sheep via flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/tronics/42856153/

Thursday, September 17, 2009

An E-reader Please

I have been in love with the "idea" of e-readers since the first time I ever laid eyes on them. I've had them in my checkout cart more times than I care to recount but I have never been able to take that final step and press purchase. Why? I am one those "I want what I want" type of people and I get a little annoyed when I can't get it. However I also realize you can't get something if you don't ask. So here I am, asking for my minimum e-reader/book requirements.

First lower the price.
I just can't seem to bring myself to pay 400 bucks for a device that only allows me to read a book. Honestly an ipod Touch is less than that and contains a lot more functionality (though not quite as easy on the eyes for extended reading). If you expect me to buy a dedicated reading device you better find a way to get that price into the $99 range.

Make my books mobile. Shortcovers is on the right track in this regard. They recently added e-reader capability to their services. Now I could download a book to my e-reader but if I'm out and about I could also access the book from my ipod touch, blackberry, iphone, or a host of other mobile devices. Now that's a step up from a book! Anywhere access on any of my devices ... a book can't do that!

Photo: Gunthert , IMG_1503.CR2 , via Flickr, September 18, 2009 under a CC License

Let me own my books. When I buy a physical book, there is no question of ownership. That physical entity is mine, I can give it to friend, leave on a park bench, donate it to the library, hoard it on my bookshelf.. the possibilities are endless. If I buy a digital book (for marginally less than a physical book), I want to own it.

Photo: Dori, Dori4050, via Flickr, September19, 2009 under a CC license

Let me NOT own my books. There are some books I like to have around and read over and over again (well not really but maybe some people do) but the majority of my reading is consumable. I read, I'm entertained, I throw (or give) it away. I know I can check books out of the library (even digital books in a lot of cases) but sometimes I just don't want to wait in the queue for the latest best-seller. Would I be willing to pay for immediate access to a book that deletes itself when I'm done? You bet I would! The question will be .. how much?

Don't fence me in. I will not buy a device that limits me to one supplier (Hear that Kindle .. not that you are allowed up here anyway). I want the control (and openness) to access whatever content I want from whatever supplier. Buying books, checking them out from the library, magazine and newspaper subscriptions, favourite blogs, I want them all!

Make it better than a book (for bonus points). So far all that is being done is taking the "traditional book" and put it on a screen. While that's okay, I'm looking for something more. Anywhere, any device access is a start, certainly something a book can't do, but it is hardly a showstopper. I want enhanced content ... I want to be wowed!

Well that's it. The bare bone minimum of what I need from an e-book/reader experience in order to finally hit the check out button. I hope some of this functionality comes soon ... because I really want to hit that button in time for Christmas!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The I'm Back Post

It seems inevitable in every blog that there is a huge hiatus followed by the "I'm back" post. Seems the excitement of blogging slowly gives way to this feeling of -- Who am I to be blogging about things -- do I really have anything unique or useful to add to the conversation? To be truthful, in my own case, the answer is probably - no, not much useful or unique happening here.

Then after months and months of not feeding my blog -- a new comment arrives on the eve of embarking on a new project. Both the project and the comment have reminded me of two things. First, even though I may doubt the value of the things that I put in my blog, amazingly it does connect with some people. Second, I am realizing that blogging, for me, is becoming more about personal reflection than it is about serving the needs of an audience.

So I'm happy to be back and am looking forward to using this space to reflect on the new projects in the works. If anyone is still out there .. well .. that's just a bonus!