Goodreads vs FanFare vs ?: MeFi Reading Group July 23, 2014 11:37 AM   Subscribe

During the initial discussions surrounding FanFare back in March, some talk was had regarding adding books and other reading to the subsite at some future time. It was noted in passing that there is a two-year dormant MetaFilter Goodreads Group. I'm curious about moving forward on one of these options and would like to solicit opinions from the group.

So:
  1. Should we wait to see what capabilities FanFare might add in the future?
  2. Or perhaps revamping the Goodreads group?
  3. Is there a different option?
  4. Is a MeFi Reading Group something to aspire to at all?
"A room without books is like a body without a soul." - Cicero

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx
posted by Celsius1414 to MetaFilter-Related at 11:37 AM (49 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

Token mod note as far as FanFare goes: books is still very much on the To Do list, though obviously the current work that's been going on there has been in filling out Movie functionality and getting FanFare Talk built. I don't know if there is any kind of ETA on the books stuff, Matt and pb would be able to provide more info there.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:38 AM on July 23, 2014


Nope, no ETA on books at FanFare yet. It's something we want to do but it isn't on my actual to-do list yet. Sorry I don't have more info.
posted by pb (staff) at 11:43 AM on July 23, 2014


Really really pleased to know that this is on the to-do list; I frequently find myself reading (and arguing with) the SparkNotes after I finish a book because it's the closest I can come to having a discussion about the book without actually having to talk to real people.

Thanks so much for all your hard work on this, pb especially! It is deeply appreciated.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 11:45 AM on July 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


Ah, sorry -- glad to know it's on the radar, at least!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 11:46 AM on July 23, 2014


Yeah, me and pb have different species of To Do lists. Mine is a vaporous sort of Things That Will Not Be Forgotten cloud of intentions and aspirations, a sort of oral record of the constellations that dot future Metafilter's midnight sky. pb's is a list of things to do.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:49 AM on July 23, 2014 [52 favorites]


The sidebar of MetaTalk has link to Meta Book Club but it looks like it hasn't been active for a while. You could also stroll through the posts tagged bookclub and metabookclub to get a sense of past group reading and discussion activity.
posted by pb (staff) at 11:49 AM on July 23, 2014


I like cortex's poetic To Do list a lot better than mine.
posted by pb (staff) at 11:54 AM on July 23, 2014 [5 favorites]


Is this like the Poetic Eddas vs the Prose Eddas?
posted by kmz at 12:03 PM on July 23, 2014


There was also, Summer of the Wake, which was organized from here.
posted by Jahaza at 12:25 PM on July 23, 2014


4. Yes, please!
posted by snorkmaiden at 12:26 PM on July 23, 2014


I think books are going to work very well on Fanfare. Looking forward to it.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:41 PM on July 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


I would love to do a reading group and would be ok with it being via Goodreads since it might be a while before we can have it as part of Fanfare.
posted by brilliantine at 12:52 PM on July 23, 2014


I'm on Goodreads and I'd be happy to use it to build a reading group to come to FanFare.
posted by immlass at 1:08 PM on July 23, 2014


I guess question #2a might be, if we were to use Goodreads, do we use the existing group or start from scratch?
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:20 PM on July 23, 2014


Personally I'd rather have books integrated in Fanfare rather than do it offside as going off site usually means out of mind, unless you have a stavrosthewonderchicken to be the driving force behind it.

Also I'm not on Goodreads, but I would like to have book conversations with MeFites, as long as it not too bookclub styled. Fanfare seems like a good fit.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:34 PM on July 23, 2014


"A room without books is like a body without a soul." - Cicero

I hadn't seen this before and my first thought was to wonder what the original word for "soul" would have been in the 1st-century-Latin version. Trying to track that down, it seems there isn't any direct original source for this - this Classics professor categorizes it as a "myth" that Cicero said that, with a few more details at Wikiquote.
posted by XMLicious at 1:41 PM on July 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


At least Erasmus said something not unlike, "When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes."
posted by Chrysostom at 1:49 PM on July 23, 2014


I do really like the idea of having the book discussions on Fanfare, but I would also like to see the Goodreads group re-activated. Goodreads offers some functionalities that I can't get through Fanfre (like browsing through Mefites ratings/reviews of the books they've read visually so I can grab recommendations.) Even if we keep discussion on Fanfare exclusively, I'd be down for the GR group as well.
posted by WidgetAlley at 2:58 PM on July 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am going to start asking myself in everyday life whether I'm actually adding something to my To Do list, or adding it to my vaporous cloud of intentions and aspirations.
posted by Asparagus at 3:34 PM on July 23, 2014 [9 favorites]


Is this like the Poetic Eddas vs the Prose Eddas?

Whichever one has Beta Ray Bill is my favorite.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:48 PM on July 23, 2014


I really enjoyed the GoodReads group and am in favor of restarting it. I joined it for A Perfect Spy, added some MeFites to my GR friends lists and even though the group is dead, I still find reat books through their feeds and reviews. FanFare doesn't have that "What are you reading now?" functionality. If discussions end up on Fanfare, fine. But let's keep the group, too.

Did anyone complete Summer of the Wake?
posted by kimberussell at 6:57 PM on July 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


Discussing books and befriending mefites are two different activities so there no reason we can't take discussion to fanfare and continue using goodreads as we normally would to see people's feeds, list books etc.
posted by tofu_crouton at 8:47 PM on July 23, 2014


One thing that occurs to me, about that "What are you reading now?" functionality: books are different from movies and TV in that there are a lot more of them out there and people don't tend to be quite as motivated by recency. It might be kind of nice, if this isn't TOO far afield from the mission of FanFare, to have a weekly "What are you reading?" thread -- for people to just drop in a line about what they're reading (and maybe generate ideas for "Oh, hey, there's lots of us reading Neil Stephenson's new book, we should do a FanFare post on that.)

(I don't read GoodReads much because it is such an author networking thing and I don't want to be either dishonest or mean about books I dislike)
posted by Jeanne at 4:15 AM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'd be up for re-enabling the GR Mefi group.
posted by jeather at 4:55 AM on July 24, 2014


One possible feature for any book group, whether here or on Goodreads: there are a ton of MeFites who are published authors. I'd be happy to participate in a discussion about any of my books, if that's something people would be interested in, and I suspect the other MeFite authors would as well. (But I also understand if it would be weird to have authors participate -- I know that when the subject of a thread shows up in the thread, it's kind of cool, but it does tend to shift the discussion in a different direction.)
posted by yankeefog at 6:06 AM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't see what the hard thing is about adding books to FanFare with the same functionality as movies. Maybe a top level index of Books, Movies, Music, TV? We could set postings to be moderator approved for some sort of initial period if you were concerned about an overwhelming crush of books to review.

I would rather wait to integrate something here than go to good reads as the identities dont carry over from one place to another.
posted by shothotbot at 6:55 AM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't see what the hard thing is about adding books to FanFare...

It's not that adding the feature is particularly hard. (There will be some technical details to figure out like using the Amazon API to fetch book images/data.) It's that we're deliberately growing FanFare at a slow pace. We don't want to rush to add every conceivable type of media only to have the site overwhelmed, underwhelmed, or otherwise out of balance. We started with two TV shows and then opened it up. We started adding movies with a few summer blockbusters and we're on the road to opening that up a bit more. As we go we're taking a look at what works and what doesn't and that takes time.
posted by pb (staff) at 9:03 AM on July 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


That makes sense, pb.

I find the huge dispersion in comment rates in the existing FanFare very interesting. Will we really have a site for a bunch of 3 comment posts? Maybe its OK, its not like we are going to run out of electrons or anything and they may continue to generate interest over time.
posted by shothotbot at 9:25 AM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think part of the reason for '3 comment posts' is that everyone got so excited, they started rewatching every epic series ever made, so the potential viewing pool is extremely split up.
posted by tofu_crouton at 9:31 AM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, there's definitely stuff I can't commit to rewatching now and wish we'd held off on - but I will certainly be rewatching in the future, and will read and likely comment on those posts then.

(Or, the alternate extreme, I got a little too caught up in Mad Men and can't pace myself and now I'm a full season ahead. Sigh.)
posted by Stacey at 9:37 AM on July 24, 2014


When Fanfare:Books comes along, I think we should work really hard to prevent the same thing from happening. It's more difficult to commit to several books at a time than it is to commit to several shows. Another challenge is keeping interest in a book after its initial post. If we started a group read of, say, Bleak House it would probably be buried under many posts before people were at a point where they had interesting things to say about it.
posted by tofu_crouton at 9:41 AM on July 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's actually much easier for me to commit to several books than several shows, but mileage may vary.

Some of the MeFite Hannibal fans are doing a little private Goodreads Thomas Harris reading group, and it's been fun, but I wish we had more people to chat with. I look forward to the resurrection of the GR group and/or the opening up of FanFare for books.
posted by Stacey at 9:53 AM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


I almost never add new URLs to my daily internet rounds so the more things rolled into MetaFilter, the better, from my perspective. While I'm sure the Goodreads group is great, I doubt I'll ever remember to visit it, whereas I would definitely visit the Books section of Fanfare.
posted by Jacqueline at 12:17 PM on July 24, 2014


... this Classics professor categorizes it as a "myth" that Cicero said that ...

That's a relief. Cicero is a dick and I'd hate to give him any more credit than he already appropriated.
posted by General Tonic at 12:32 PM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Disagree, Cicero is pretty great! Now, Cato was a TOTAL dick.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:44 PM on July 24, 2014


I hadn't seen this before and my first thought was to wonder what the original word for "soul" would have been in the 1st-century-Latin version.

Animus, FWIW - Cicero uses it in the same sense in the Tusculan Disputations.
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:26 PM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm still tracking what the MeFi group folks are reading on Goodreads, though I admit I stopped friending (temporarily) after adding many, many of you to my feed. I review all my books on GR, so that's where I would prefer to revive reading a particular book together. Also, I am STILL very slowly reading Finnegan's Wake.
posted by bearwife at 2:38 PM on July 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


Animus, FWIW - Cicero uses it in the same sense in the Tusculan Disputations.

Anima are the things that everything living, including animals and plants, have, right? I wonder if a room without books is also like a potato without a soul. And I suppose that a room with books is rather like, or indeed the exactly same thing as, a tree without a soul.
posted by XMLicious at 5:56 PM on July 24, 2014


It's more difficult to commit to several books at a time than it is to commit to several shows. Another challenge is keeping interest in a book after its initial post. If we started a group read of, say, Bleak House it would probably be buried under many posts before people were at a point where they had interesting things to say about it.

Yeah, this is kind of why I think a reading version of FanFare would end up with not too many posts most of the time. I'm not really a "book clubber" (I'm no longer in school and don't want to be told to read the same thing as everyone else), but it is fun to discuss stuff that everyone else is coincidentally reading at once--but in my experience, that's usually easier to do on an author's webpage than it is with a general audience. Then again, I hate trying to read pages on Goodreads. So...I don't know.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:19 PM on July 24, 2014


Anima are the things that everything living, including animals and plants, have, right? I wonder if a room without books is also like a potato without a soul. And I suppose that a room with books is rather like, or indeed the exactly same thing as, a tree without a soul.

I think you've got your declensions mixed up, there. Anima is not a second declension neuter plural - otherwise the work you linked to would be de animis in Latin. It's a first declension feminine singular, which roughly means "life force".

That's a Latinate relative of the Greek anemos, meaning "wind" - which relates to psuche, which is the word Aristotle is using, which means "breath" and by extension life. However, Latin distinguishes between the anima and the animus. The animus is the soul, or the mind, or the capacity for emotion when used of humans. You can use it of animals and plants, where it means something like "nature" - the way they act and behave.

So, Cicero would probably agree that a potato, once you explained to him what a potato was, has some sort of motivating element that makes it grow (anima), and that it has a potato-like nature (animus as a synonym for ingenium), but not that it had a soul (animus) in the way a Stoic would imagine a soul - that is, a thing that animates matter and makes possible the development of reason.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:23 PM on July 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


Did anyone complete Summer of the Wake?

I probably shouldn't admit this here, but without knowing exactly what I was getting into I went online and put the book on hold at the library. I put a few "supplemental" texts I found on hold, too.

I went to pick up the books and walked up to the checkout counter, and while the librarian was checking the other books out I opened it and started flipping through the pages. I laughed, explained what my plan was, and then told her it was never, ever, going to happen. She kindly checked the books back in and was very nice about not making feel like an idiot.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:41 PM on July 24, 2014 [6 favorites]


I think you've got your declensions mixed up, there.

Not even! I don't speak Latin at all and was just trying to come up with something that sounded better as an English plural than "animuses"... in fact some parallel of alumnus/alumna/alumni, I think, but I fumbled it. In any case, thank you for the details.
posted by XMLicious at 2:05 AM on July 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


NP! That thing where neuter second declension plurals and feminine first declension singulars both ended in "-a" was the point where I started thinking "who designed this language?", so I may have been projecting...

(Then I found out that fourth declension masculine and feminine plurals looked like second declension masculine singular, but sound different. Roman Empire should count itself lucky it had already fallen. Is all I'm saying.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:44 AM on July 25, 2014


It's that we're deliberately growing FanFare at a slow pace.

I think this slow rollout is working pretty well, except (as noted above) there was a bit of a land rush of REWATCH ALL THE SHOWS.

It seems to me also that Fanfare is somewhat of a stealth experiment in more graphically-rich Metafilter pages. The sidebar gallery on the Fanfare front page, the full-width header image on show pages, the sidebar image on episode pages. They're nice integrated additions to Metafilter's text-y design.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:30 AM on July 25, 2014


I tried to compile the ternary operation in the title, but I think there might be a syntax error.

A neat feature would be to link GR page numbers to user accounts, so that users could report where they are in the book automatically and maybe spoiler content before a certain chapter point for those catching up.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:10 AM on July 27, 2014


Did anyone complete Summer of the Wake?

I think we collectively made it about 200 pages in? Which is an enormous accomplishment, to tell you the truth. I'm glad it happened!
posted by naju at 10:19 AM on July 27, 2014


It seems as if the composite leaning is more toward waiting to see what happens with FanFare. I'll keep an eye out and circle back around on this topic in the future if there isn't any movement.

Meanwhile, if anyone wants to further connect on Goodreads, the Social Explorer has the master list of MeFite Goodreaders. (Among whom you'll find me.)
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:06 AM on July 28, 2014


cortex: Yeah, me and pb have different species of To Do lists. Mine is a vaporous sort of Things That Will Not Be Forgotten cloud of intentions and aspirations, a sort of oral record of the constellations that dot future Metafilter's midnight sky. pb's is a list of things to do.

pb: I like cortex's poetic To Do list a lot better than mine.

The important thing is you avoided the term "roadmap." I hate when people tell me something on their skymap is actually on the roadmap. No, it's not even prioritized in your queue yet and is for all intents and purposes in its own heap pile, because you're too busy to re-prioritize things. Just tell me it's on the skymap.
posted by aydeejones at 6:36 PM on July 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


Wait, is skymap an actual thing?
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:32 AM on August 2, 2014


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