in Thoughts

Sites that don’t freak me out

GoodReads might be the only social media site that I actually like. It’s certainly the only one that doesn’t fill me with crushing anxiety every time I log in. While I understand that’s because you can’t link out to the screaming freak shows the news sites plug us into, I think it’s more than that.

I felt positively about goodReads before the world was literally and figurative on fire. It’s probably because unlike most of the sites that make up social media, it has something to offer me, the user. It’s not just a gapping maw to fling links into so the algorithm can drip feed it back to people with some kind of connection to me; it wants to provide me with recommendations of books.

Yes, this is not done out of the goodness of its heart. Amazon is trying to make a sale. (Remember when Amazon was just a book seller? Grandpa Millennial does!) But this transactional model feels quaint by todays standard of creating linked based Skinner Boxes to farm users for data points.

I’m a writer, so by definition I like books. Not just reading them; I like talking about books, I like thinking about books, I like book shopping, and making reading lists. GoodReads gives me tools to do all of these things, and gets out of my way and lets me use them.

While all of this seems basic, they are become novel concepts in the Year of Our Lord 2020. We should relearn them and apply them to the things we build: be direct about what you are, and make the service you provide users the core of your business.