I’ve spent a fair amount of time lately trying to redesign my blog, both the front end look and the back end guts. One of the projects that has yet to see the light of day is redoing my reviews blog. This blog was initially conceived of as a place to store my reviews and not have them clogging up this blog.
But reviewing stuff was too much work. I rarely did it.
I’ve been trying to find a way to make my review blog fun and useful again. One of my ideas was to take [yet another] page from kottke.org and add the functionality to rate each item being reviewed. So now a review could simply be the title and my rating. Fun and easy, assuming you can do cool stuff like sort by rating.
Well, with a little help from Jason Kottke himself, I’m close to having that functionality. Today I ran into a snag trying to get info out of Amazon so I could easily do images and associate links to Amazon (which gives me a cut of purchases–greedy I know, but I’ve learned the power of multiple income streams, no matter how small the trickle). We’ll see if I’m able to sort that out (stupid plugins with out of date documentation).
What Do I Really Want?
After hitting another dead end and taking a break I started thinking about what I was really trying to do. Being a consumer of pop culture I enjoy books and movies and music and I think it’d be helpful and fun to share my thoughts on those things. Netflix lets you rate movies (and uses the info to offer recommendations), and it’s kind of addicting. Why not do that on my blog, plus offer a short review if I felt like it (or not). Nothing in-depth (though it could be), just some fun rating and sorting and such.
Then I realized part of the fun of all this is sharing it with others. That’s great that I would give Children of Men five stars, but what do other people think? And to really make a robust system would take a lot of work on my part, and I’m no techie.
Web 2.0 Rating/Reviewing Tool
Suddenly it came to me: I’m looking for a pop culture social networking site. I want to review and rate and share, but it’d also be cool to see what other people think. See what movies my friends enjoy (another addictive feature of Netflix). And what if I could slap it in the sidebar of my blog?
It seems like a pretty simple idea. It’s almost something that could be built into a pre-existing social networking site (like MySpace or Facebook–which have it to some extent; they let you add your favorite music/movies/TV shows and Facebook will show other people in your network who like the same thing). Netflix already does it to some degree and Amazon does it to an incredible extent–yet neither site has set it up as something to share and post on your blog (and I believe Amazon actually owns the reviews you submit, which makes me hesitant to post stuff there). They see it as a tool to help you buy more stuff, which it can be, but that’s not exactly the best way to position it.
It needs to feel like my own. I can review and rate as much stuff as I want on Amazon.com, but I can’t sort my own reviews by how many stars I gave them or however I want to see them. It’s Amazon-oriented, not me-oriented.
Plus it needs to be portable. Let me slap it on my MySpace or my blog or whatever, and suddenly it’s something people will do for fun. Don’t stick me with yet another profile to maintain.
It’s kind of a bummer that Amazon isn’t all over this (though it seems like they’re trying). Starting with a massive product catalog seems like the first step.
So it’s another wacky web 2.0 idea. Maybe there is a site that does exactly what I’m talking about (probably). But now I’m faced with the dilemma of doing it my own way or finding a community-centric way of sharing. Bleh.
Why do I get so distracted by this stuff?