Today Kathy Sierra writes that being able to see what books people have read (or would like us to think they have read) tells us something valuable about the person.
Kathy asks What is on your virtual coffee table?
One of the best ways to get to know someone is to look at their bookshelf. Or at least their coffee table. I heard a story (can’t remember where) about a new manager who was taking over a role where he knew the team was unhappy about the situation. Rather than do the usual “let me introduce myself” speech, this manager walked into the conference room with a pile of books he was reading, or that had been favorites, and laid them on the table and said something like, “Here, take a look at these and you’ll know more about me than I could ever explain. Borrow anything you like.”
To externalise your reading list is a fine example of declarative living…
We do it with music – the Last.fm
We do it with pictures – flickr
We do it with web content – del.icio.us
We even do it with books – some people use allconsuming
Reading lists are delivering some of the most interesting social applications, which is why I strongly recommend you subscribe to Alex Barnett’s blog. He is at the forefront of understanding the phenomenon, and rather than just talk about it – he likes to aggregate screencasts and so on, in order to show what he means. He will boil the ocean so you don’t have to.
Call it Reading lists, call it structured blogging, or call it declarative living. It all depends on what books, blogs, or people you have been reading…
Suffice to say we’re seeing de facto standardisation of the personal metadata we tag ourselves with in order to help navigate the forest and trees. One final example – the good old blogroll.