I don't know about you, but when I go book shopping, there are certain things I do to "thin slice" a book before I buy it — and it's similar to how I look at a blog for the first time, before I subscribe to the RSS feed or recommend it to others.
When I grab a book off the shelf, here's what I do to determine if it's worth my time and money:
Cover (Title, image, subtitle)
Back Cover (blurbs, about author)
Inside back flap (about author)
Copyright date (if it's not this year, it better be close)
Table of Contents (potentially a view of the book's "Big Idea")
Index (if there is one – a good idea of the contents)
Flip Thru (if it's all text – I'm gone. Let's face it, this writer wrote this without me in mind)
That's the thin slice of book buying for me. How about blogs? I do something similar (and so do my students):
Sidebar near the fold or scrollbar (RSS feeds, search the site)
Categories (Much like a Table of Contents)
Timestamps (When was the last post and are the postings consistent?)
Comments (is this an engaging blog/community?)
Date-based Archives (Tells me how long the blogger has been at it)
Twitter/FriendFeed/Other SocNet buttons (Where else does this author engage?)
Blogroll (Do we read similar authors?)
A couple more steps, but still – it can be done in a likkety-split-second or two. If you're new to blogging, this is a great start at finding new blogs to read, link to, and follow. If you're new to reading books — stop right now and head to your local library.
I’m so confident (and hungry to get rid of stuff), that I’m offering a unique opportunity to anyone who blogs about Garage Sale 2.0 tomorrow prior to 12pm ET.
Point to either one of the posts here about Garage Sale 2.0 (One Day Only or The Video Preview) — or better yet, point to the Garage Sale 2.0 UStream page — and receive a book off of my shelves.
I’ll have a complete Flickr photostream of all the titles (and there’s plenty to go around!). So between now and noon tomorrow, blog about it, talk about it, come online and buy something via UStream or BlogTalkRadio, Twitter or Skype. It could be the next eBay IT.
We’ll be having a few photo, video and UStream previews between tonight and tomorrow’s opening bell at 6AM CT.
One book I always keep handy for personal and professional inspiration is John C. Maxwell’s Talent is Never Enough.
As I was flipping through the pages the other day, I realized how the Table of Contents could be used for many areas of life. So, I’ve SCAMPER‘d it to fit blogging, substituting the word Blogging in place of Talent:
Belief Lifts Your Talent Blog: Believe what you have to say is important. Believe that your imprint on a conversation already making the rounds adds to the mix. Believe in yourself.
Initiative Activates Your Blog: Just do it. Try something new. Take something old and make it your own. Great idea? Just do it.
Focus Directs Your Blog: A purpose-driven blog is one that is focused on the text, task, and talk. If you lose focus, check out Lisa Haneberg’s lens to regain clarity
Preparation Positions Your Blog: With so many social media & networking widgets available, don’t forget to adorn your blog with widgets that serve your purpose. (My recommendations are on my blog — take a look-see)
Practice Sharpens Your Blog:The more you blog (both reading and writing), the stronger your blogging muscles get. Sharpen those muscles with good blogging practice.
Perseverance Sustains Your Blog: Lack of comments, lack of visitors, writer’s block, disagreements, software issues. Even Twitter goes down once in awhile. Stick it out. Remember, even a diamond is just a piece of coal that stuck to the job.
Courage Tests Your Blog: Are you a Thrill Seeker or Fear Avoider? Love growth. Embrace change (or else it will tackle you), because it’s going to happen anyway.
Teachability Expands Your Blog: I say over and again (until I learn a new saying), Begin with a Learner’s mindset. If you’re not learning something from everyone and everything, you’re one stuck schmuck.
Character Protects Your Blog: Even super heroes are human, but a strong character will see you through every blog storm.
Relationships Influence Your Blog: Often, Your Visitors Hold the Answers to what should happen next on your blog. And listening is a big part of conversational media.
Responsibility Strengthens Your Blog: You’re probably going to make mistakes on your blog (if you don’t, you’re probably stuck in the mediocre zone). Own up, improve, and learn from them.
Teamwork Multiplies Your Blog: It is said that actor and audience both must take an active role for a play to work. Blog writer and reader play similar roles. Team is the theme. Eventually, roles may converge in larger projects, such as the Age of Conversation.
I’ll add one for good fortune: 14. Vulnerability Humanizes Your Blog: The conversphere is a forgiving community. We’ve all been there. And the sooner you trust the community, the sooner the community will trust you.
Lookybook is a great tool for teachers and parents who don’t have the budget or time to find great picture books. You can either go to the Lookybook site or embed one of the books in your own blog or wiki (click on the eyballs to go to a larger version):
As with many Web 2.0 tools that allow for embedding, just look for the code and copy/paste. Here’s the page for the Lazy Days of Summer book above
I took a long lunch today, but it was worth it. Here’s Matt Mason on The Pirate’s Dilemma. I’ve said it elsewhere, but we’re moving from an era of D.I.Y. (Do-It-Yourself) to a generation of D.I.T.S (Do-It-Together-Smarter).