Thing 11 is to investigate Library Thing (I know, that's an awful lot of things for one sentence). Well, according to my profile I apparently first investigated Library Thing on July 24th, 2006. I have a sneaking suspicion I found out about it in one of my graduate school classes. Apparently I went in and cataloged seven books that I had read recently, and then abandoned it. It's not that I didn't see how this could be useful, it just didn't grab me for some reason.
As I'm looking at my account now, I think I know why that happened. First of all, the interface is really complicated. There's too much to do on the main page of your account, and no obvious way to isolate just your books, or just your friends. It puts everything that you can do on the site out there at once. The thing is, I'm not using this site for all those other things. I'm using it to track my books. The rest just becomes annoying. I'm also very disappointed to see that Library Thing has gone the way of so many free sites and is now charging for a "premium" account that will allow you to catalog more than 200 books. Guys, tracking my books online is not worth any money to me each month, especially when there are other options available.
At some point since the summer of 2006, someone invited me to join a different site called GoodReads. This one caught me, probably for two reasons. First, I already had friends using it so I could share titles more easily. But second, it gave me a dirt simple way to add both books I had read as well as books I wanted to read. They seem to recognize that this is important to their users, because since I've been using it the interface to add books has gotten even easier. Now after looking up a title it takes two mouse clicks to add it to my to-read list. Of course, the down side of this is that my to-read list is over 50 books and I'm backlogged to books I added last summer. But I guess that's a good situation to be in.
Another advantage of GoodReads is that it's not trying to be about more than just sharing books. This means that people who don't care for social networking or blogging or the other features that Library Thing seems to be promoting can use GoodReads more easily. My father has absolutely no interest in Facebook or MySpace, but since he's always curious what I'm reading he joined GoodReads to make it easier. Since then, he's added more friends on GoodReads just so he can get ideas about other things to read.
I think that the main Web 2.0 message to take away from this is that you need to focus on what you do well. People already have outlets for chatting and sharing what they're up to. But if you give them a simple way to share just what they're interested in, they'll add that on top of their social networks.
So to finish off, here's my GoodReads "read" shelf. Enjoy!
my 'read' shelf: