Cloud Musing

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Cloud Musing

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1streamsong
oct. 28, 2006, 12:19pm

So I've got about 75 books listed now--not very many actually. These are books that I am currently interested in, or part of my permanent library as I have gotten through the top shelf on the first bookcase. (too many self-help--sigh--the legacy of a divorce and empty nest at the same time).

But I am obsessed by my 'tag cloud'. I add a book or two and go admire my it, pondering the most recent additions, trying to see how it's changing.

And as I look at it I think:'Is this who I am? Is this what my life and interests look like to someone seeing me from the outside? Am I my tag cloud?--or is this only a record of what some people would call the clutter in my home?"

With every book I add, I think the picture of me is a little clearer. Since my books aren't totally random in my bookcases, there are whole collections of mine not added yet. And yet I can't help thinking it's creating a portrait of my life--just an incomplete portrait like an artist who hasn't yet painted the details in the face.

I look at the tag and author clouds from people with only a few books entered and wonder how much of their life isn't showing (painted) yet. I look at the tag clouds of people with huge numbers of books and tags entered and see the details are obscured--like looking at the entire Grand Canyon through one arial photograph.

My goal is to only add a few books a day so my obsession has to stay quietly in the closet and can't go running amuck eating up whole days. My next three books to add are sitting next to my computer and I am already contemplating their tags and their meaning. Do they add anything new to my picture? Do they confirm what's already there? Are they a photograph from the present or a portrait from the past? Why have I chosen to share my living space with these particular books?

2trollsdotter
oct. 28, 2006, 11:25pm

(try 2)

Your post is very poetic. It reminds me of my early days entering books. I almost wish I could go back and enter all of my books slower and savor it all again.

I'm still bemused that Grace Livingston Hill is one of my "largest" authors, and looking at her huge name in my cloud brings back hours of happy memories reading her books. I look at the author cloud and muse that while size is an indicator of my favorites, some of my favorite authors have not written very many books.

I couldn't wait to get all of my books in, but now as I add tags I'll take some extra time to think about each book again.

Thanks.

3AsYouKnow_Bob
Editat: nov. 3, 2006, 1:07pm

Nicely put.

I haven't actually spent much time contemplating my tag cloud, but what I have noticed here on LT is how spookily accurate the "Random Books from (person's) Library" feature usually is.

Almost always, it seems to come up with a list of seven random books that could belong to no one else. (Statistically, that's even a true assertion: figuring that the typical book is held by (say) 10 people, you don't need very many terms in the equation to draw a unique combination.)

The tag cloud certainly does that, but I never would have guessed how accurately one can distill a person's interests down - just seven titles.

(Thanks for posting this.)

4MaggieO
nov. 5, 2006, 9:11am

Hi streamsong - Inspired by your lovely musings on clouds, I finally went and had a look at my tag cloud. It's so fascinating, revealing all the little facets of what I think of as my identity, all the interests I have that make me, me. I have many books that I would never part with because they represent important pieces of who I am.
I find that the author cloud is not as representative, since the number of books I have by any given author does not necessarily reflect that writer's importance to me. This is often true of classics, I've noticed. For example, having a few books of Keats, or even one of his collected works, is so much more valuable to me than having 20 books by Janet Evanovich. I do enjoy reading Evanovich, but the relative value of her books doesn't begin to approach the absolute necessity of having Keats in my house. And the author cloud can't represent in type size the importance of one obscure little gem of a book that for some reason has endeared itself to me, even though no one has ever heard of the author. I think the point you raised, trollsdotter, that favorite authors may not have written many books, is important to keep in mind when examining author clouds.
Maybe we need to have value clouds?

AsYouKnow_Bob's observation about the uncanny accuracy of the Random Books column on our profiles pages is something I've noticed as well. I always like to look at which titles the random book section comes up with each time I open my profile page, as it's interesting to see how such a small selection of books can represent many interests. (I also like that feature because I've discovered and made note of many of interesting books by looking at other LT-er's random books.)

Maggie

5rebeccanyc
nov. 5, 2006, 10:21am

MaggieO, I share your thoughts about author clouds. I'm only part way through entering my mystery books, but already their authors obscure other authors because I tend to read most of the books by a mystery writer if I like his/her work, and mystery writers tend to be prolific, often stopped only by their own (nonmysterious) deaths.

6streamsong
nov. 5, 2006, 4:38pm

I'm glad this resonated with several people. :)

I've added about 50 more books since I wrote this and my tag cloud looks more like 'me' all the time.

Wow--some of you people have wonderful, extensive libraries!

I agree that my tag cloud reflects my tastes and interests better than my author cloud. trollsdotter, I'm also embarrassed by my 'top author' currently-like I said, I'm reading too many self-help books.

AYKBob I had not noticed that about the Random Books thing. Thanks you for mentioning it. Since so many of my books that I've recently entered aren't owned by other members (and they are all pretty mundane) , I'm starting to believe that 'horse collectors' and 'Montana collectors' are not yet too common to this site.

7hobbitprincess
nov. 8, 2006, 9:56pm

I just checked my Random Books list, and if anyone looks at it, they won't get a good picture of me at all! In fact, if I had to pick books from my library least representative of me, I think I would pick most of those.

8xenchu
jul. 14, 2008, 12:07am

My Random Books list doesn't even (usually) get to the alphabet. It picks the titles that are numbers, especially from Eric Flint's Ring of Fire series.

9muumi
jul. 15, 2008, 10:33pm

>7 hobbitprincess: They are *random*... very random... and they change every time the page is refreshed. The latest iteration of my Random Book list does homage to my interest in education and classical studies, gives a nod to my collection of young adult literature by throwing in two books, one of which isn't particularly good, includes one of the less typical books in my religious collection and one sci-fi title, and completely ignores my extensive knitting, needlework, crafts, and book arts collection. Can't blame it for excluding my art books because I haven't got to that shelf yet, but there are several more substantial collections it hasn't touched.

And when I refresh the page, I'm a completely different person, with a book on decorating, a scholarly biography of St Jean de Brebeuf, two picture books -- one comic and one Bible-based, and three classic YA books - two fantasy and one historical fiction.

The next iteration has a Regency romance, a Tony Hillerman mystery, a book on trumpet technique, a travel book, a classic YA book in French, and a picture book.

None of those mixes are really "me".

I think some of us have collections that are TOO random.