Bookcrossing and A November Walk

Bookcrossing and A November Walk

Today I went for a slight variant and came across a book dating back to 1930 so of course I picked it up. I like the look and feel of old books. I also like that they carry history. The book is 91, almost 92 years old and it has been passed on from generation to generation for almost six generations. I looked in the book and at first I just ignored the scribbles at the front of the book, not thinking much of it. Now that I looked closer I noticed the BCID so I looked up and logged that I found the book.

Now that I know about this project I feel that I should add books that I own to that database, for people to find and share them. One book has 601 hops, and the next only 198. That is how many times books have been passed on from person to person.

I see that the project is still new but it will soon reach two million members (bookcrossers) and approaching 14 million books. It is present in 132 countries, and what is impressive is that this is only since April 2021, so the site is still new. Registering a book is quick and easy. Note the ISBN, Double check the info, write a comment, create the book, and then add the BCID to the inner cover and a new book is logged. It takes seconds.

I believe that this is a great project because if you think that the use case for cars, is bad, due to how much time they spend sitting around, then imagine how bad it is for books. They spend years, even decades on shelves collecting dust, without being read more than once. With a website like Bookcrossing those dormant books are given the opportunity to travel, to be read, to be discussed and to be shared, over and over again. A book is no longer read by one person but dozens, or even hundreds. It works like a library, but the library is the world, and everyone can be a curator.

I could now create an entry for The Unbearable Lightness of Being and other favourite books of mine, and over time I could follow as they are shared, commented on, and as their locations move either west or east, south, or north. It would show how interconnected the world is.

I will participate in this project. I like the opportunities that I think it opens up.

Forcing people to be active daily with Stories

Forcing people to be active daily with Stories

Facebook and Instagram both have “Stories”. Stories are temporary vertical pictures and video that are only available for a limited amount of time before they are backed up and saved for retrieval once you request your data.

In theory, they are a fantastic way of sharing life as it happens without worrying about something embarrassing being available for an extended period of time. In practise, they are a way for Facebook and Instagram to force users to be active every day if they do not want to miss out on what their friends are sharing.

I never use Stories because I’m over 30 so I’m less of an early adopter than I used to be. ;-). On a more serious note, I don’t use Stories because it encourages people to produce kitsch rather than the content of value. It also forces you to look at an image or video just once for a few seconds. The only way to pause this content is to touch the screen to see content long enough.

Content, in Stories, is so fleeting that if you blink you’ll miss it. It’s also a way for FB to force you to be attentive. With ordinary FB timelines you can stay on content until you scroll past it. This means that you can have a conversation or do something else at the same time. It also means that it’s easier to skip adverts. With Stories they know that you have seen the advert.

Some content and images shared via Stories are worth more than 3-5 seconds. They’re worth an interaction. In Stories the only interaction is a direct message. In Stories the only way to save content you like is to either screen record or screengrab.

Another drawback is that we’ve gone from having one timeline with friend activities to two. We now have to spend time scrolling down one stream, and when that’s done we theoretically have to scroll across.

People who use Stories, rather than the primary timeline become invisible. Their content is so well hidden that I miss it. Their content is so well hidden that they might as well start a blog.

When I finished writing I couldn’t think of a conclusion. The conclusion is that ordinary people social media is a lonely and invisible place. We write thoughts, share pictures and then within seconds they’re far down in a timeline never to be seen. In light of this making them fleeting, as they are in Stories only makes our content that much easier to ignore. By writing a blog post it may go unseen for years, but it’s there, and if someone decides to read every post, as I have sometimes done, then a blog is a good time capsule, a good way of keeping people entertained. Blogs, after all, do get published as books, sometimes.

The Phone Box library Walk

The Phone Box library Walk

If you’re looking for a reason to walk from one village to another the practise of using old phone boxes as free libraries are common in Switzerland. This means that if you’re shopping around for books in Switzerland you can either go to the shops and buy them with the car or you can go for a walk and see if any of the nearby villages have the books you’re looking for.

Former phone box used for sharing books
Former phone box used for sharing books

In Gingins, Grens, Eysins, Nyon and other towns, you can swap books. In Gingins you can get books from the recycling centre where instead of recycling books they re-share them. You can also get them from where the old post office was. In Grens and Eysins they have book sharing as well. These are open twenty-four hours a day.

In Grens it is especially amusing because they have labels for French, English, German, Italian and other language books. If you’re learning a language you can get books to read for free.

Instead of walking from one village to another for a coffee or to play on the swings (if you’re accompanied by children) you can walk and see if you find interesting books.

They have children’s books, cookery books, fiction and factual. If your bag is large enough, and if you have enough energy you could even pick up some of the heavier books. I found one about North African cooking, two about avalanches and others that are about dinosaurs and other topics.

I think that it’s a great way to share books. Instead of throwing books away or letting them sit on a shelf after they have been read you can place them in these phone boxes and the next reader can pick them up and read them in turn. By walking from village to village it helps you keep fit. By walking in towns and going to the different book sharing points the same benefit is present.

The beauty of phone boxes is that they are often protected from the weather so instead of having one library in a building to serve several villages each community shares books internally.

Goodreads, or some other reading sharing app, should add functionality to the app so that people with their app on their phone could catalogue which books are in which village. If other users of the app are looking for a book they can see if there is any book sharing point with this book. Books would then be read and shared more easily.



Today I’ve been playing with Photophlow, a photo sharing and chat website that allows you to easily discuss and share pictures with friends within the interface as well as on tumblr and twitter.

Among the features that I find interesting are the ability to create personal rooms and invite flicks friends in. once this is done you can look at their personal photographs, favourite pictures and more. It’s a great way for photo buffs to share photographs without having to give hyperlinks all the time.

What I like about this photo sharing method is that it makes the entire process much easier. Much as you would pull out a photo album and start showing photographs and commenting on them you may do the same via this website.

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Not Enough Time

As I went through my video archive I’ve found a lot of good videos. As a result of this, I’ve been reminded of many moments and memories. There are a few people I’ve seen frequently since the shooting of the footage whilst others have not been present for months or years in some cases.

I love watching this footage and I can’t help but want to upload the videos to Facebook. It’s not that I particularly like the video interface on Facebook but rather it’s easy to do with the people bothering to look at them. The first video I uploaded to the web was of the Crete graduation back in 2000 but at the time no one would watch them. Finally, technology has come to a point where sharing is easier.

I’ve uploaded three clips and am in the process of uploading the fourth clip now. One or two are of a fashion show, another one is of a snowball fight and the last is of some friends dancing. These videos are tame compared to others I have. It’s part of contemporary life, that it is recorded. How many times are you photographed by tourists as you walk through London? How many times have you been filmed during parties that you may have forgotten.  What about those conversations?

I don’t live in the past. I live in the present and I love to film. I love to watch a scene and film it from many angles. I love to capture conversations without the people noticing so that a few years later we may laugh as we view them. Friends acting in plays or performing in various ceremonies are probably the best but parties are good too. Especially when the video is of the cameraman (in other words me) as he is distracted by something.  It’s amusing footage.

Some of it my friends will see, some of it will be archived and preserved for later.