Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sites That are Good for the Soul

I have recently started to collect good karma websites . . . the ones that promote sharing and creativity and all that wonderful junk. So if you're looking for a pick-me-up, I recommend investigating one of these jobbers:
This little gem is rising in popularity, but I continue to be floored by the number of people I meet who do not know this site. The beauty of Pandora is that you get to design your own radio station, based on artists or even specific songs that you love. Pandora will play music with a similar style, including music from artists you may never have heard of. So not only do you have control over your own radio station (you can tell Pandora when you don't like the song that's playing), you also get to discover music that doesn't make it on to conventional radio.

Good for the little-known artists, and thrilling for listeners, too.
Genius. BookCrossing is an exercise of free-love, hippie-meets-message-in-a-bottle book sharing. You register a book onto the web site, journal about it (your review, etc.), write a message on the inside cover explaining and giving that book's own specific ID number, and then you leave it in a public place. Just leave it. Just set it down any old place and walk away. Ideally, someone will pick it up, open the cover, and see the instructions guiding them to log onto BookCrossing using the ID number. They they read it, journal about it on the website, and release the book back into the wild to do it all over again.

All the while, you can track the book's journey . . . how far it goes, what lives it touches . . . I get a high from every book I abandon in the corner of a coffee shop.
This is another get-a-book-for-free site, only without the serendipity. On BookMooch you can actually search for a specific book, and if someone else has it available to you, they mail it wherever you ask them to, at the sender's expense.

The catch is that you can only request a book if you have book points, and the only way to get book points is to first send off a book. It's a community of book-lovers supporting one another's specific literature needs, all the while adhering to that old adage: In the end, the books you take are equal to the books you make. Or something.
Etsy is a marketplace for crafters/artists and the folks who love handmade goods. On Etsy anyone can sell his or her handmade goods, on the condition that the product is completely handmade or vintage. All Etsy asks in return is $0.20 for every item a seller posts and .35% of every sale. Not bad, huh?

There' s also a bidding option . . . if you want to give Great Aunt Nona a set of homemade napkin rings for her 80th birthday, you can log onto Etsy, put a request out for the item, and sellers will bid for the opportunity to make you some good old-fashioned napkin rings using nothing but their bare hands and a big bucket of love.
This is a site run by HarperCollins in an effort to find a few diamonds in the rough. Budding authors can upload the first chapter or so of their latest novel and open it up for comments and critique from fellow writers and readers. All the while, HarperCollins keeps an eye on the action, and periodically they select the pieces with the highest reader approval for review for possible publication. Nothing is guaranteed, of course, but the writer has nothing to lose, and a lot to gain from peer review. Even for the non-writer it's a treat . . . how often do readers get a say in what books deserve publication?

That's my list. Get online and get happy.

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