Weeknote 16: Favourite websites, favourite books

2 Aug 2019 | Digital media, Reading, Websites

What are your five favourite websites?

It’s a funny question, isn’t it? I came across it recently in a survey but it doesn’t really reflect the way I use the internet these days. And it got me thinking.

My browser thinks my favourite websites are Google, Twitter, Facebook, Gmail  and LinkedIn. But do they count? They are useful, everyday places where I do interactive things – transactional websites, in the jargon. There are other places I visit – perhaps less often – to be informed, educated or entertained that I perhaps enjoy more. So my favourites from that point of view could include The Conversation, The Guardian, Medium or some of the many blogs I follow.

It’s unlikely, though, that I’ll decide to go direct to a particular website and see what’s there. I’m more likely to follow a link from social media or one of the many email newsletters I’ve signed up to.

What about you? Do you have favourites, or does it just not work like that any more?

What I’ve been reading this week

Book cover for 'Because Internet'.

A book called Because Internet. I bet you hate that, don’t you? The title is obviously provocative but this is a serious book (although written with a light touch) about the way internet language has evolved. The author, Gretchen McCulloch, is an internet linguist and (for those who worry about such things) makes the distinction between formal and informal English – so this isn’t about throwing out the rules of grammar.

It is, though, about studying how new rules or conventions develop in the context of online communication. The book is based on the fact that for the first time (because of the internet) we have large amounts of data about informal written English and can track how things change. For example, she talks about ‘typographical tone of voice’ – this will make sense to any parents whose children think they are cross with them if they use full stops in text messages.

There are many more fascinating examples to enjoy if you’re geeky about this sort of thing. I am – I was really excited reading the book – and I loved it.

In other news

Steve Roberts, a bookseller and singer-songwriter, has been funded by Arts Council England to write songs that explore our relationships with books. For inspiration, he’s asking people to complete a survey on the subject: a life of books. Questions include: What books do you particularly treasure? Tell me about a book that has had a profound impact on you or even ‘changed’ your life. What memories do you have of childhood books? Do you identify with characters in books?

I couldn’t resist.

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Book cover for 'Because Internet'.

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