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February 16, 2008

Why Can't I Easily Widgitize My Reading List?


  SynCh Adaptors 
  Originally uploaded by Ross Burton.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately, which is why I haven’t posted as much lately. No excuses so why not merge the two and write about my reading list.

The problems is that I can’t easily use my Amazon wishlist on this blog to show you what I've been reading.

I can send people that link above and they can see my wishlist but I want a widget that displays my wishlist on my blog without having to navigate to Amazon. More than anything, I want a visual representation of those books, which is a lot faster and easier for people to grasp instead of a simple text list.

While I have a few of recent books in the left-side bar of this blog, I have to manually update that via Amazon and my Typepad typelists. It means going into the code and updating, which is a pain. But on Facebook, Shelfari takes care of this for me. I simply add the books I’ve read and then have an easy widget displaying my books. Amazon, why can’t you do that?

Amazon does have widgets but it’s not a simple click/export from my wishlist page, I have to go to my Associates profile, log in again, and choose the widget there. Shelfari wins this battle for simplicity and ease of use but there’s still one stumbling block: Shelfari on Facebook is closed.

I can’t export that Shelfari widget to my blog, it’s locked into the Facebook world. So I still do have a solution to a simple question, how can I use a widegt to display my books on my blog?

The solution?

Spending 10 minutes copy/pasting and ALT+TABing between browser tabs to synch my Amazon Wishlist and my newly created Shelfari account. Note, that’s my new Shelfari account via their website, not my Shelfari account/page via Facebook. Can I sync my Facebook Shelfari account with my non-Facebook Shelfari account? I don’t know but it’s not obvious (and it should be- that's the problem).

Here’s the result of that work, a widget that visually displays my recent and plan to read books:

In conclusion, here are my takeaways and remaining questions:

  • Amazon- have a one-click feature for widigitizing your wishlist or reading list. You patented the one-click purchase feature (which is IMHO completely ridiculous), why can’t I make widgets with one click?

  • Shelfari- can I synch my Facebook widget list with my non-Facebook widget list?

  • Facebook apps are still closed to the outside world, creating redundancies for anyone trying to synch their multiple online presences or social networks.

  • There’s money to be made in reducing redundancies and improving synchronization between online profiles and social networks. Hopefully OpenSocial or maybe even OpenID are addressing this exact problem. Jason and Mahalo are even addressing this challenge/opportunity by allowing people to view all of their social networks from one page.

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