'Very Short Introductions' very short life November 24, 2007 9:26 PM   Subscribe

I'm kinda bumed this post on the 'Very Short Introductions' series was deleted, but understand why. Any suggestions how to get the book series in the blue, besides pushing illegal copies? The FPP had 4 favorites in its brief life and had some useful discussion starting about the best books in the series.
posted by stbalbach to Etiquette/Policy at 9:26 PM (34 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

MetaFilter is really at its best when it's pointing to stuff on the web. So, while I'd caution you that trying to "get something on the blue" just because you think it's great is not always the way to good FPPs, I'd suggest really starting with looking for good web content about the topic that interests you. It may be that you come at the books themselves sideways via one of the topics that also makes a really great post. Maybe wait for the VSI blog to take off some more or try to merge it in with other bloggish content about some of the same topics?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:36 PM on November 24, 2007


Scan them in and have a friend post them. They will be up until Matt gets a DMCA letter.
posted by caddis at 10:04 PM on November 24, 2007


I own the Postmodernism: a very short introduction, but I've never read it.

That is all.
posted by delmoi at 10:29 PM on November 24, 2007


It may well be that this would make a good post -- elsewhere, in some other forum.

But I don't see any obvious way to make it a good post for this forum. Generally, "This is a really cool thing that you all should want to buy" isn't welcome here, no matter how it's packaged.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:53 PM on November 24, 2007


Is there a Complete Idiot's Guide to Very Short Introductions for Dummies?

'Cause I'd totally buy that. And by "buy that," I mean "casually flip through it at the library."
posted by Reggie Digest at 1:11 AM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow, I am glad I found this through Meta, though I understand that that is not the way the site is intended to work. Thanks stbalbach. I know that pepsi-blue type posts are discouraged, but is this that different from a post announcing a new phone model?
posted by davar at 4:30 AM on November 25, 2007


Wait until Apple introduces the iVSI series, specially formatted to be viewed on your iPhone or iNano. Then the post will stay.
posted by googly at 6:18 AM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Tie it into the Kindle somehow.
posted by mendel at 7:19 AM on November 25, 2007


Kinda jazzed with 'kinda bumed'. Somehow a most serendipitous typo. Looks like 'burned' but isn't. Bumer.
posted by motty at 7:20 AM on November 25, 2007


I've only flipped through a couple of these, but they really do seem like great little books; my ex-physicist boss tells me the science ones he's read are very good. And the $9.95 US price is great - unlike, e.g., the Penguin Lives series, nice-looking but very thin hardbacks that go for $20 (and, judging from the couple I've read, aren't edited well at all).
posted by mediareport at 7:31 AM on November 25, 2007


Here's what Google Books has for 'sex'. Quite honestly, I think this would make a better FPP than what was linked to in this callout.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:37 AM on November 25, 2007


is this that different from a post announcing a new phone model?

Not really, but for geek-historical reasons MeFi (meaning Matt) has always been receptive to "ooh look at the cool new software/electrotoy/Google application" posts; I tend to skip them and certainly wouldn't miss them if they vanished, but I accept them as part of the site, like a friend's unfortunate addiction to musical comedy.
posted by languagehat at 8:05 AM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


OK, to be fair, Google applications are in fact on the web and I do sometimes appreciate them, so please pretend I didn't include that in the list.
posted by languagehat at 8:06 AM on November 25, 2007


"This is a really cool thing that you all should want to buy" isn't welcome here.

..but "This is a really cool thing that you all should want to rip" is welcome. It seems ethically questionable that posts containing riped content (a few every day) are more acceptable than posts about a commercial product. These are generalizations of course and there are exceptions, but seems to be approximate (probably not intentionally). If my post had contained links to riped copies it would have probably stood. I understand why this is and how it came about and don't blame anyone for it, certainly I click on riped content myself. It is a transparently thin line between "Pepsi Blue" and "cool post".
posted by stbalbach at 8:18 AM on November 25, 2007


If my post had contained links to riped copies it would have probably stood.

No. if your post had contained a link to some actual content worth reading, whether a news story about the sereies, free samples, supplementary texts that added to the books or whatever, it would have probably stood.

Really, there's *nothing* to read at that site, stbalbach. Point me to something interesting to read there. It doesn't exist.
posted by mediareport at 8:29 AM on November 25, 2007


This post deserves to get riped to death
posted by horsemuth at 8:52 AM on November 25, 2007


Next time on Metafilter Nights: The Riped and the Bumed.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:08 AM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't think the existence of a great book series is enough for a good FPP.

Similarly, posting about the existence of a really great book would not be enough for a good FPP.

The norm here seems to require that a good FPP either:

(a) point to something really cool/excellent/neat/informative that is contained on the web. I.e., you must be able to use the resource on the web; it can't just be a pointer to a website for something to buy. Thus, we have one-link FPPs to silly Youtube videos, but would never have one-link FPPs to a video you have to buy in order to view.

(b) describe, by multiple links that establish a trend or a phenomenon, a context for post in which it might be acceptable to post a link to something to buy. I.e., if you notice that there's a trend toward excellent series of books on philosophy or the history of ideas (ie., Routledge, Oxford, or Wadsworth), you might post a FPP exploring why this is the case. For example, such a posting might explore the history of series books starting with Penguin, the concept of "branding" as it relates to book series, the effect of the Dummies and Idiots books, etc. Then you might be able to link to your series of Very Short guides.
posted by jayder at 9:20 AM on November 25, 2007


On the oher hand, "Which of the VSI books are worth reading?" would make a decent AskMe.
posted by tkolar at 9:24 AM on November 25, 2007


I linked to this series a few days ago in an AskMe answer that would have made a better front page post than this one.

The way to make this a better front page post would be to take this a little more (as they say) meta. That is, find an article or two that looks at the phenomenon of such little primers, or discusses the question of "teach yourself" materials more broadly. How does this series differ in philosophy from the "for dummies" or "for beginners" or "for idiots" approach, or the Routledge "New Critical Idiom" series, etc. What are the class implications of these little books? What does it mean to be "educated"? Could or should such primers be wikified? Why or why not?

There are so many interesting questions into which this link could be inserted; I do hope that you manage to repost this as part of a richer more interesting post.
posted by washburn at 9:32 AM on November 25, 2007


Any suggestions how to get the book series in the blue, besides pushing illegal copies?

Somehow, I don't think linking to your deleted thread in a chatfiltery faux AskMe question is the best way.
posted by grouse at 9:24 AM on November 26, 2007


Wow, I disagree grouse. The good part of the conversation was figuring out which of these books is worth reading, and I'm thrilled to see it continued.

It's a perfect fit for AskMe.
posted by tkolar at 9:44 AM on November 26, 2007


That's what makes it chatfilter. AskMe is about solving problems, not conversation.
posted by grouse at 9:49 AM on November 26, 2007


"Which of these 147 interesting looking books is worth reading?" is a problem I have. And I don't mean that jokingly. I'm heading for a two weeks beach vacation starting December 15 and these look perfect.
posted by tkolar at 10:47 AM on November 26, 2007


grouse, in a fundamental way, I agree with you. It used to baffle me that "what should I name my cat?" would get axed as chatfilter yet "what's a good sci-fi book about robots?" would remain.

To me, both questions can only be answered by totally-subjective value judgments. I'm VERY extreme in my feelings about this. If someone wrote, "I'm the chairman of Sci-fi Studies at X University and I wrote edited nine anthologies of Science Fiction," his opinion as to what makes a "good" sci-fi book would be as valuable to me as that of any fan who had read a whole lot of them.

But I think "what's a good book about X" questions are allowed because (a) not everyone agrees with me that "expert" subjective judgments aren't privileged and (b) these sorts of questions are simply allowed (even when no experts chime in). I think it's a quirk; it's an exception to a rule.

It's interesting that if you ask -- as someone recently did -- "what's your favorite book?", that's chatfilter. My guess is that it would still be chatfilter if the poster had changed it to, "I want something new to read. Please recommend a book."

On the other hand, "please recommend a good mystery novel" might stay, because it's more specific, I guess. Specific or not, it strikes me as just-as-much chatfilter as any chatfilter question, because all it's going to turn into is a bunch of people listing their favorite books. As opposed to their favorite cat names.

There's no objective criteria for "good" -- unless you arbitrarily pick one. My favorite books are "well written," but what does that mean? It means something to me. I could explain what sorts of words, sentences and phrases must be included (and which sorts must be excluded) for a book to be "well written." But your definition of "well written" might be totally different. Or you might not care about sytle at all. You might call a book "good" if it has naked people in it. Whatever.
posted by grumblebee at 12:55 PM on November 26, 2007


grumblebee, I probably wouldn't even have flagged a "what's a good book" question. What gets me here is the Pepsi Green aspect. stbalbach is really pushing this product. First a flimsy post on the blue, now this flimsy "question" on the green, separated only by another post on the gray.

Next thing you know, it's going to be a fucking song on MetaFilter Music.
posted by grouse at 1:17 PM on November 26, 2007


"what's your favorite book?", that's chatfilter.

"please recommend a good mystery novel" might stay, because it's more specific, I guess.

I would expect the latter to stay not because it is more specific, but because it asks for a distinct service that can be readily supplied by the members of AskMe. "What's your favorite book" is an open ended question with no clearly defined goal -- it's asking for opinions just to hear people's opinions.

In this particular case the goal is very clearly defined. There are a limited number of books under discussion, and it very quickly becomes clear which ones people have found useful and which ones they have not.

As far as subjectivity is concerned, about a third of the questions on the AskMe front page right now ask for opinions or recommendations. It's part of the territory.

posted by tkolar at 1:28 PM on November 26, 2007


man, I'm screwing up formatting left and right today.
posted by tkolar at 1:29 PM on November 26, 2007


grouse wrote...
now this flimsy "question" on the green,

You mean the one that I recommended that he ask earlier in this very thread?

Or do you think that stbalbach and I are secretly stealth marketers for Oxford University Press? Wait, perhaps I'm merely an innocent bystander, caught up in stbalbach's sinister plan to sell introductory level educational texts. He joined the site seven years ago and has made over 4200 posts in anticipation of the moment when he could finally attack our cynical consumer shells from the inside!

Or, just maybe, maybe, he found a series of books he thought that mefites would enjoy, decided to post about them and was regretfully informed that this wasn't really a good venue for that, and then at the recommendation of a different mefite created an AskMe to follow up on the question (first brought up in the aborted thread) of which of these books were worth reading.

But no, that's silly, a Pepsi Blue style marketing campaign is almost certainly what this is.
posted by tkolar at 1:46 PM on November 26, 2007


Or do you think that stbalbach and I are secretly stealth marketers for Oxford University Press?

I have a recommendation for you, The Straw Man Fallacy: A Very Short Introduction.
posted by grouse at 1:52 PM on November 26, 2007


I'm sorry, perhaps I misinterpreted what you meant by "Pepsi Green". 'Cuz is sounds like sort of a play on words for "Pepsi Blue".
posted by tkolar at 2:15 PM on November 26, 2007


tkolar, I wouldn't keep humoring this guy with a response. BTW thanks for the suggestion. The system of interlocking forums worked exactly as designed: Problem in blue, solutions worked out in grey, better post made in green. No need for a complicated conspiracy theory, mine and yours posting history and reputation are open for all to see.
posted by stbalbach at 2:20 PM on November 26, 2007


I'm sorry, perhaps I misinterpreted what you meant by "Pepsi Green".

Apology accepted. I find it hard to believe I'm the only one who feels this way. (Actually I know I'm not, since there was at least one "GYOFB" comment in the AskMe thread that was deleted.) But I don't see much point in arguing over it further with the two of you.
posted by grouse at 2:30 PM on November 26, 2007


The Straw Man Fallacy: A Very Short Introduction

But do you think that's better than This Site: It's Different Things to Different People or Why So Cranky, Imperialist Yankee?? Because I can only read one of them on my vacation.

oh who the fuck am I kidding, I get no vacations.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:53 PM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


« Older Dream? Stream? whatever.   |   OMGOMGOMG? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments