Tuesday, 10 August 2010

A Reader's Journal & a few thoughts on privacy

In October 1995, I started keeping a reader's journal. Each book I read, I'd fill in the title, author, date I finished the book, and write a brief review of what I thought. This wasn't intended to be particularly personal, I more just wanted to keep a record of what I was reading. I kept up the practice until the end of 2008. What stopped me? Technology. I had discovered Good Reads, which I enjoyed using as a way to keep a handy list of books I wanted to read. I also enjoyed seeing what my friends were reading and found it a handy way to search for things.

Recently, I thought that I should add to my Good Reads the books that were in my journals. I dug them out of the basement and started entering them. My idea was to type in exactly what I had written, but in the end I just gave it a star rating based on my thoughts. I just didn't feel comfortable posting online for anyone to read, something I had written 10 years earlier in a private place. What was executed as just a record keeping exercise ended up being more personal. I opened up one journal and saw on the first page that I had written my name and address. Immediately, a rush of memory of that apartment. Then the journal itself, a little book I had picked up in a museum shop in Istanbul.

This got me thinking about technology, social networking, journal keeping and privacy. At craft shows, a lot of people tell me "Oh, I have a blog now, I don't keep a journal." "I email on trips, that's like keeping a journal." Has social media replaced journal keeping? Have people lost a place where they can be totally private? Or has their sense of privacy disappeared and people are willing to share everything? I know I definitely censor myself when blogging or tweeting. I also noticed that my Good Reads reviews had become stale compared to what I had written in my books. I no longer am writing details like: Who loaned/recommended the book? What inspired me to read it? Did I cry at the end? Did I read it on a plane at the beginning of a trip? Did I think it was boring?

Flipping through these journals brings back a lot more memories than scrolling through a list on my laptop. I can picture the apartment I lived in, how hot that summer was, or the crazy blizzard we had. In trying to be more efficient, I lost that tangible side of the experience. It's not just about record keeping so I can sort, find, recommend; it also (unintentionally) is a record of what was happening in my life at that time, who I was hanging out with, where I was living.

So, yesterday I decided to continue in a real book, my record of books read. While I think I'll still use Good Reads because there are some aspects of it I enjoy, it's definitely not a replacement for my tangible journals.

I guess today's post is about keeping some kind of record keeping journal, something that's just for you. One that doesn't involve a whole lot of time or effort or purging of emotion, just a little more than a list. Maybe it's new recipes you've tried, movies you've seen, museum exhibits you've visited, it doesn't matter what. These journals will be a surprising peek into your everyday life, and will tell you a lot. While I do love my laptop, blogs, Facebook, Twitter and all these things that connect me to people I would never know otherwise, I do think it's important to have some private space in your life, some thoughts that are just for you.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Photographing Books

Good photographs can make or break your business. They can mean the difference between a potential customer or promotion, and not even a second glance. I'll  be the first to admit that my photographs can use improvement, so it is always with interest that I will read articles with tips on how to improve my photographic skills. Since we use our photographs not only in our Etsy shops, but also for book swaps, on blogs, flickr, facebook and other sites, it is important that they be as good as possible.

Vintage Photograph Journal by buechertiger

I recently came across a two part article on Photographing Your Artist Books on the blog of the 23 Sandy Gallery in Portland. Very helpful information can be found in Part I and Part II.

Etsy's blog, The Storque, also does occasional articles on photography, and here is one on Feature Friendly Photos.