Over Fifty Years of Reading
I have tried to keep a complete inventory of my reading for many years now. It started in college (when I should have been studying) with 3×5 cards that I made for each author. I wrote on these each of the titles I had read and eventually started adding other titles as a reminder that I still had a lot of reading to do.
At some time I abandoned the card file and entered each title as I read it into a journal (I also used these journals to take notes in classes — I never was keen on three-ring or even spiral-bound notebooks). When I left school and entered the business world I transcribed my reading inventory into a Bell Telephone Laboratories notebook where I still keep a physical record of each book. However, the Apple II was introduced and I started computerizing my records first in VisiCalc and later in Excel. Although Excel was a great tool I eventually developed a reading database system using Filemaker but it was not as simple as the Excel so I actually used both systems until the Filemaker database got out of synch and I had to abandon it.
Years later I rebelled against the evil empire and removed all Microsoft products from my computer (which was by this time an iMac — about the twelfth Apple computer I had owned) and was forced once again to transcribe my database to Filemaker. But by this time Filemaker was far more sophisticated and provided an automatic path to convert an Excel database. The key, I have found, is to keep it simple and direct.
A few years earlier, 1996 to be exact, I was corresponding with a few individuals that kept their reading log on the Internet and I was impressed enough to start my own web site — A Celebration of Reading was born. The original site was straight text with little navigation since I had to hand-code it in HTML using a text processor. Then I converted it to Claris Homepage and when support for Homepage was dropped I sprang for Adobe’s Go Live as a part of their Network Suite. Now I have converted the site to iWeb which makes sense since I moved ACOR to what is now the MobileMe server when my then ISP dropped individual accounts many years ago.
Maintaining this web site using iWeb and the services of Mobileme has provided adequate flexibility with a level of support and access that wasn’t available in early versions of the site. Then I used a fairly current iMac to maintain the site and did some of the work on the road using a MacBook laptop. I even accessed the site with my iPod Touch or iPad whenever I needed to verify an entry of check that I had a certain title in my library. With the addition of the iPad, I started looking for even more ways to access and maintain this site whether I was at home, sipping an Americano at Starbuck’s or just roaming the stacks at the university library.
Then Apple announced the demise in 2012 of MobileMe and the apparent discontinuation of further support or improvements to the iWeb product under the new Apple iCloud, has forced me to look for alternate sites to host ACOR. I earlier had thought of migrating it all over to my weblog site at WordPress and I fortuitously made that move.
My next challenge is to see how much of the site is available for automation using the suites of Apple and Filemaker software products. The dream is to post once and then see the update metasticise automatically across my electronic domain.
Although WordPress has provided me with a safe and powerful home for my website since 2011, it has not allowed for the automation, based on Filemaker, that I had envisioned. My solution was to continually simplify: make it faster and easier to maintain ACOR despite the limitations of the platform.
Since migrating to WordPress I have gone through at least two iterations of new support software and hundreds of smaller updates that often came as little unexpected surprises. The current (2020) version of ACOR is simple and straightforward but, hopefully, still functions as a boost to reading books and keeping our brains unmuddled.