Category: Technology

Whither the blogroll?

I added a blogroll to Reading in Bed. I thought this would be a quick tweak, but apparently WordPress removed the blogroll “widget” nearly a decade ago. Despite that, I see blogrolls in the sidebar of book blogs fairly often. They aren’t dead. But they have waned, likely for the same reason that blogs themselves have – the ascension of big social media platforms. Who needs a quickly-outdated list of recommended blogs when Twitter can take a pretty good guess at what else I want to see, and suggest a passel of related accounts every time I hit the follow button?

The fact that they do still exist, and that the ones I quickly surveyed appear to be up to date, suggests that there must be something relevant about a blogroll, something that social media, or newer WordPress widgets like “recently liked”, can’t quite replace. As I filled in my blogroll, I went down a blogroll rabbit hole, as it were…

Who coined the blogroll

One of the only “official” looking sources of info about who may have coined “blogroll” comes from a 2004 book called “Who Let the Blogs Out” by Biz Stone, who names Jason DeFillippo, and points to a website that no longer has anything to do with blogrolls. Stone and DeFillippo have both since shuttered their blogs and moved on to newer media (Stone co-founded Twitter, DeFillippo produces podcasts).

This is painfully early aughts

There’s a bit of a historical record around the time that WordPress removed its built-in blogroll feature, notably this post from (also defunct) Lorelle on WordPress that gets into the controversy and ends up recommending, perhaps reasonably, that if you want to recommend another blog, you just write a post about it.

Why blogroll now, in the year of our Lord 2022

Posting about your favs is a valid suggestion, but posts and pages get buried. Unless you are very dedicated to posting links to other blogs (e.g. Pickle Me This “Gleanings“), blogrolls still seem to best serve bloggers (build community, signal where you fit in the “blogosphere”) and visitors (find more blogs to follow with ease) alike.

I decided to add a blogroll for an even more self-serving reason: I wanted an easy way to check in on my favourite blogs. I use the WordPress reader, and have email notifications turned on for some blogs, but I only really sit down to read and comment every week or two. I get quickly overwhelmed by how many posts I’ve missed. There are only so many tabs I can open! I want a limited list of homepage links, so I can take a quick look at new posts from the past few weeks. I also prefer to actually “visit” blogs, rather than view them in the reader or in an email, which strips away all the formatting and menus.

Blogrolls: you can too

If you want to add your own, you have to add a “menu,” title it “blogroll,” and use a widget to place it on your homepage, a process much better explained by wpbeginner. It’s easy enough, just a little clunky, as you must type in each blog’s title (and double-check format and capitalization), manually toggle it to open in a new window, and manually alphabetize the list at the end.

So far, I have 26 blogs listed. These are the blogs I want to have handy for weekend perusing, the ones I comment on most, most of which I’ve followed for many years. I started using it to catch up on blogs today, and I love it.

If you need some blogroll inspiration, check out Ye Olde Blogroll, a sort of blogroll without the blog, with around 200 links across many categories, including books. It’s delightfully old school but well maintained.

And if you’re looking for some new book blogs to follow, look to your lower right (or scroll waaaaay down if you’re on mobile). Assuming you aren’t reading this in WP Reader or an email digest or something. Work with me!

Nonfiction November Week 3: Be the expert on tech pessimism

This week’s #NonFicNov prompt is hosted by Veronica, who has given us a few options: you can be the expert, ask the expert, or become the expert on a topic of your choosing. I informally put out a “ask the expert” call in my previous post, and it was answered! If you also want to learn more about Iceland, look no further. This week, I’m going to be the expert on tech pessimism, or to be more precise, on the many, many ways in which social media is harmful.

I’m not really a tech pessimist, or if I am, I’m deeply in denial, seeing as I tweet an average of 250-300 times per month. And yet I’m drawn to these books. I read them, agree with them, vow to change my ways, take week or month-long social media breaks, and then go right back to where I started. I see my Twitter addiction like my (long dormant, but never really gone) smoking addiction; the only way to beat it is to go cold turkey and to never give it an inroad. But unlike smoking, I can’t fully give up social media and neither can you, probably.

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(Taking a) Break (from) the Internet


From Douglas Coupland’s “Slogans for the 21st Century”

This is a self-indulgent post (“as opposed to what?” you may well ask) meant to solidify my plans and give myself a little accountability, but it could be used it as a guide or jumping off point for anyone looking to take a break from the internet.

Yes, let’s go with that.

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How to read a book every week by ignoring your responsibilities: seven tips

Inspired by “How to read a whole damn book every week” by Kevin Nguyen, who has great bookish tweets

Ever notice that most “how to read more” articles are really basic? Smug too, but that’s inevitable. The GQ article above was better than most, but let’s talk about some ways to increase your book consumption that you might actually not know about. Continue reading

Ebook appreciation month #2: One (e)Book, One City

Ebook appreciation month continues!

One Book, One City events predate the ebook, but technology sure makes it easier to get one book into many hands. In my first ebook appreciation post, I told you how publishers put a damper on ebook borrowing, with limits on how many epub files can be borrowed and for how long. But a big event like this means a city (or its library) can negotiate a deal with a publisher to allow unlimited borrowing, and Edmonton is the first Canadian city to do so.

Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper is the One Book One Edmonton selection for 2015. If you have a Edmonton Public Library card, you can borrow it. But, you can’t download it to an ereader, so you’re stuck with your phone or tablet. And it’s being released in six parts. The first one is up till the end of the program on November 16, and subsequent parts are available for a week at a time. Part 2 is only available till October 19, so get on it!

At first, I was put off by having to read on my phone. It’s smaller than an ereader, the battery life sucks, and the back-lighting is harsh. However, the BiblioCommons technology on the back end allows you to do this:

Not only can you easily share quotes to social media, but it’s all pretty. In other words: it’s branded, social media-ready content. What if a publisher could do this kind of branding in an ereader? Or an author? Or… a book blogger? Those who clutch their pearls at the thought of ereading must be strangling themselves over this kind of application, but I think it’s got a lot of potential.

Have you participated in a One Book, One City event? Would you post branded quotes to your social media?