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vilja

Vilja Reads

I'm a student, so I don't have nearly as much time for leisure reading as I'd like. If I manage to read an entire course book instead of just the assigned chapters, I'll review that here, too.

Off-Topic

OFF-TOPIC: The Story of an Internet Revolt by G.R. Reader - G.R. Reader

This is a book about Goodreads written by Goodreads users, which I first saw on Goodreads, and downloaded for free via a link on its Goodreads book page.

It is a collection of essays, for lack of a better word, of outrage regarding a change in Goodreads policy. All essays - articles? - were first published on Goodreads as "reviews" or updates. It trawls the issue to discuss the subjects of censorship, free speech, marketing and privacy. I'm rating it three stars for being interesting, but this review is mostly going to be, as they say, off-topic. 

This is the first I ever heard of this site-wide kerfuffle, which boils down to: 

1. Goodreads is bought by Amazon.
2. Goodreads starts pulling "reviews that focus on author behavior", in essence any review in which, or in the comments to which, an author is badmouthed, and any shelves dedicated to books the Goodreader in question is making a point never to read.
3. Outrage. 
4. Dismissive response.
5. Holy shit now it's really going down, motherfuckers. 

 

I no longer expect businesses to be any better at dealing with online arguments than the average celebrity. It's not supposed to be that hard not to be a dick when called out on your shit. You acknowledge their point, undo what you did if you can, apologize sincerely, and never do it again, having come out of the conversation wiser and more considerate, one hopes. Don't press the point or offer a mild modification. Nobody ever says anything nearly as bad to cause initial offence as what they say afterwards trying to defend it.

Having read Off-Topic, I do now have misgivings about Goodreads - not because they're interfering with reviewers who are using a space meant for book reviews to write their diaries or whip themselves up into a fury over PR-inept authors or even real scumbag authors. The interference, from what I've seen, has been fairly minor. Also not because I think "the Goodreads community" has been damaged by GR's policies - it seems I was never a part of this community, since I've used GR for reviews and personal interest rather than conversations. It's rather because I never read the TOS, as nobody ever does, and I'm uncomfortable with the idea that GR thinks it owns my reviews.

 

I'm not saying I think anybody would necessarily be interested in reading a published-for-money book collecting my thoughts on YA and mystery novels, but I also don't like the idea that I might not be able to publish one if I wanted to. I'm also uncomfortable being reminded that all this info is being mined by Amazon so it can recommend me books not only by the stereotypes of my gender and age, but by the subject matter and genre I've read before.

Am I going to leave Goodreads? Kinda. I made a BookLikes account and I enjoy their posting platform more, as well as a Leafmarks account, but the latter I won't be updating before they sort their site out a bit more - currently it's too slow and buggy. I haven't quite decided to terminate my Goodreads account yet. I have too many accounts, so maybe later, but there's no hurry. We'll see how this whole thing develops. 

On the subject of freedom of speech... Do we support, as freedom of speech, efforts to shut down other speech through threats and abuse? It's not a value, it's a managerial choice, modified as necessary; one of a pack of tools to make discussion possible. 

I still had to make sure to send myself a copy of this review before I clicked post, so I could republish it on BookLikes. You never know how fast they can be with their red flags and delete buttons.