Software for good causes

Can anyone face any tecchy stuff? Well, I’m going to download a little if that’s OK.

Social bookmarks, I love them. Here is a great site which allows you to choose the bookmarks you like (Connotea, Delicious, Digg etc), and provides you with a bit of code which you add to your template. This provides you with one of those little auto-links at the foot of each post so that people can click and add your post to aforementioned bookmark services. If you are into this "geeky/nerd" kind of thing, my recommendation is Connotea becuase that is where I have two of my many personalities: Maxine and Detective. Maxine has a lot of science-publishing related links, and detective has lots of links to do with crime fiction — book reviews, blogs, websites and so on. (See explanation in left-hand sidebar under "Maxine’s links"). However, Connotea overall is heavily science-biased (though pretty good for handbags), so Delicious might be preferable.

I’ve already posted a link to a site that lets you convert any page to a PDF "on the fly", here is one, on 43 folders, that does the same for rss. If I were truly serious about this blogging lark, I would use this code to provide an rss feed for each subject category on Petrona, but I am not serious at this kind of level, and I doubt that any of my very discerning, exclusive readership is either (except possibly Itchy Icahabod, if she reads this.)

If you are into getting listed and achieving recognition for your blog, here is a site called blogher;a lthough mainly for women bloggers it does not seem to be exclusively so. There is an annual conference, which I was interested in attending until I found it was fully subscribed for this year. Maybe some of us could get together there next year? (Especially if they hold it in California.) Again, the conference does not seem to be women-only, rather it is women-biased. I submitted Petrona to the blogroll, but when I went back to check today she did not seem to be listed, although another blog I admire, Deep Thinker, is there on the "new additions" list, so if Petrona does make it she will be in good company. Blogher has lots of ads, "workspaces" and forums, as well as links about the conference (which looks excellent); however the site is pretty clunky and slow. Amazingly, the blogroll, which as you may imagine is huge,  is not indexed A to Z but is done Amazon-style with numbers. So if your blog happens to begin with P it takes forever to find it as you have to try "9" then "17" and so on. Bit frustrating when you do all that, waiting for the page to load up each time, then when you finally zero -in on P your blog isn’t there. (I don’t know whether this is the case, I ran out of patience long before reaching this point.)

Why and how to use blogs to improve library services. This article is "blogging 101", but ends with a list of libraries that are using blogs….er…to improve their services. Links provided.

Deanna Hoak has discovered a useful piece of software, lj archive, which lets you archive your entire blog in less than a minute. (She has a huge blog, apparently with 2225 comments.) The archive can easily (says Deanna) be converted into formats readable by Typepad or WordPress. Deanna is soliciting feedback, and has already collected quite a lot of comments, so if you are interested in moving blog hosters, worth checking out the link.

Finally, for this post (is this becoming my catchphrase?) here is a case of someone using something tecchy (Google trends) to find out something literary. The Millions blog (a blog about books is its description) has used Google trends to uncover the world’s most literary city. The results: (1) Delhi, Chennai, Austen, Portland (Oregon?), Chicago, Seattle, New York, Denver, (10) Philadelphia. Of course, what Google trends does is to allow you to search over time for keywords. All that has been done here is to map searches by the keyword "books", so judge for yourself what it all means. Not a lot, I suggest.

Novel forms of novel

I’ve seen quite a bit recently about "innovative" book publishing to empower writers to get their words out there.

A book called Golem Song by Mark Estrin is being serialised by Unbridled Books. The first three chapters were posted earlier this month, with a new chapter being added each Monday, both written and in podcast form, until the book is complete in November. You can subscribe for 8 US dollars, or for double that you end up with a signed copy of the book (bound, one assumes). Booksquare today has an interview with Caitlin Hamilton of Unbridled Books, who is coy about how many people are actually reading or listening to the chapters, but is upbeat about how the enterprise is going after the first couple of weeks.

The Grumpy Old Bookman, who has been posting chapters of his new book on his blog for a while under a creative commons licence, has written a couple of posts about, the successful print-on-demand publisher which recently gained much publicity from its "Lulu awards". The three authors (one a pair of coauthors, to be accurate) now interviewed by Michael Allen are all pleased with their sales and with Lulu in general. The experiences of Carla Nayland are particularly satisfying — the very same Carla who turned out to be Elizabeth Bennet in the "Female Literary Character" quiz, and who has an excellent blog herself. (Small world?)

There have been many blogs and reports about Book Expo America (BEA) all over the blogs (my favourite reports were the ones about John Updike), as well as many bloggy and other reactions to Kevin Kelly’s "Scan that Book" article (I have a copy of that if anyone wants it). My favourite summary of it all is that by Lynne Scanlon, one of the world’s top three witches (Lynne is the Wicked Witch of Publishing, not Hermione Grainger or Ginerva Weasley). Lynne says: "Perhaps all those writers who faced the patient blank page everyday and nevertheless created a living, breathing book, but couldn’t find a traditional publisher, should self-publish right now online, and reap some of those rewards that are just out there ready to be discovered." (She also suggests unpublished writers send her an email so she can tell them about a service she is launching in a couple of weeks.) 

Visit Skint Writer for other ways to get your words out there. Skint posts about a new blog called unmade-up, featuring "a growing collection of non-fiction miniatures". (I like the blog title.) Indeed, Unmade-up features a piece by a certain impoverished author whom I have on reliable authority subsists on something called cawl (soup), so worth a look. And despite being skint, the aforementioned gentleman is generously holding a short-story competition, complete with prize.

Finally for this post, I discovered (forget how, inevitably) a site called The Institute for the Future of the Book. The mission is to explore the fact that the "locus of intellectual discourse is moving from the printed page to the screen". This is manifesting itself as a "networked book", not bound by time or space, but evolving "within an ecology of readers, authors and texts", and by its nature, never finished — always a work in progress. Although it is all fascinating, this is a project funded by academia, so it is hard to see it expanding to fiction books or books that individual authors are wanting to publish. But this type of experiment is one way in which new forms of "publishing" can evolve — side by side with the mega book searching and scanning projects going on at Google and now Microsoft and Amazon (this last company having just added an online reader for its "inside book search" feature, but probably only on its US site).