sue watling

LibraryThing

July 19, 2009 | 1 Comment

I’m intrigued by LibraryThing – are there also facilities for virtual collections of cds and dvds or even vinyls?  I use Delicious  for creating lists of websites I want to go back to – but spending time creating digital collections of my non-digital life – should I be excited or just plain scared? Or is it just an extension of putting my photographs online – which I already do.

The site promotes the idea of community –  for example

LibraryThing connects you to people who read what you do
Find people with eerily similar tastes.
Many social connections thrive at the site

How much does this emphasis on finding other people who share your interests tap into real-world isolation and loneliness? Participation in the construction of online identity does involve a fairly intensive relationship between you and your laptop. This I know – the laptop bit not the loneliness I hasten to add. This made me think of Second Life. I can’t remember when I last logged on and both the media and the education sector seem to have gone quiet on the subject and I wonder if Internet addicts are migrating back to the construction of text and image based avatars rather than 3D virtual worlds?

Back to LibraryThing and with my gender head on I note that of the 22 profile images on offer only six are female. Ignoring the obvious US–centricism, I found the preference for Jane Austen over the Brontes, George Eliot or Virginia Woolfe says much about the representation of women writers in the western world.  Instead there is Emily Dickinson (clever with words but not a poet) and Helena Blavatsky (wasn’t all her text channelled anyway?) Soujourner Truth (activist rather than writer) and Sappho (most of whose poetry is lost). I’m guessing you need to be dead to be on this list which may excuse the omission of Alice Walker and Toni Morrison, and not by your own hand, which leaves out Sylvia Plath or Anne Sexton. We are left with Edith Wharton – no lack of respect intended but and how many of her books are you familiar with?



1 Comment so far

  1.    Paul Stainthorp on July 20, 2009 2:31 pm      

    I’m not sure why anyone would choose to use someone else’s face (female or male, living or dead, author or otherwise) to represent them as their profile picture, anyway… maybe I just don’t identify strongly enough with any authors?

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