Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Yes, Finally I'm posting again. I'd thought for past weeks about posting about the WV water crisis, or the dismantling of net neutrality and the oligopolizing of ISP's in the U.S. or a myriad of other depressing subjects that have been on my mind of late.

Instead, how about some strange, pointless, statistics about our family members?

Don't worry, it's nothing the NSA doesn't already have on you. It's not even embarrassing!

So, Goodreads. Yes goodreads statistics. We are a family of readers. What does the way we rate books say about us? Is there someone who is much more optimistic or pessimistic about what they read than others? Do we all have a tendency towards book grade inflation because we like books so much? Is there anything in the random statistics that pops out and tells a story about one or all of us? The data is public. Let's find out!

Dad--No Picture--Username John Glass 834 books listed 826, ratings (3.23 avg)-19 reviews -- 34 friends
Joseph--Picture in a tree-Username Joseph Glass Read 147 listed, 64 ratings (4.22 avg)-- 4 reviews - 56 friends
Ruth--No Pic--Username Ruth Glass 368 books listed read, 63 ratings (3.38 avg)--0 reviews -- 23 friends
Andrew--No Pic--Username Andrew Glass 79 books listed read, 79 ratings (4.20 avg)--0 reviews -- 4 friends
Adrianna--No Pic--Username Adrianna Fowler 146 books listed, 145 ratings (3.97 avg)--0 reviews--6 friends
Richard-- No account?
Johnny--No Pic--Username Ohjnny Bologna--0 books, 0 ratings (0.0 avg)--0 reviews--0friends Signed up, but didn't use site.
Megan--has a Goodreads account but that's all I know.

So...on a 5 pt scale--average would be 2.5 all of us who rated books were higher than this for our average ratings. Book raters--optimistic to pessimistic: Joseph 4.22, Andrew 4.20, Adri 3.97, Ruth 3.38, Dad 3.23 No major surprises there

Books listed Greatest to least: Dad, Ruth, Joseph, Adri, Andrew. Surprises? Maybe, but listed doesn't = all books read.

Other stuff: Joseph is the only one with a picture. Why would that be? Andrew rated every book he read and doesn't appear to post books unless he's finished with them. Ruth is more likely not to rate a book that she has read than to rate it. Only Dad and Joseph review books on the site. Johnny is the only one that doesn't use his real name as a user name.

So what does all this mean? I have no idea. Any thoughts? Data on each of us is copious and easy to glean in the world we live in. It's figuring out useful and ethical things to do with it that is the catch.

Oh and Ruth. Even though Sherlock is WAY better, I'm still watching Elementary. What's up with that? :)


  1. Yeah, so this is exactly what we try to look at in my anthropology and new media studies class. Evaluating who people are through certain mediums. Totally fun right?
    You can assume that I don't have an account, because I don't. What does that mean of me? I don't read?

  2. I think it would be interesting to compare the Goodread statistics to a data report obtained about our reading habits via survey. And another one via self-report. And another one based on amazon purchases and library archival records. And another one compiled by spy scientists (spyentists?) who follow us around, cataloging every single book we've actually read.

    I imagine the results would be different, but converging towards one answer.

    And flipping the causational chain around, if you know how much we all really read, you could use the Goodreads posting as a measure of online social media integration.

    I know for a fact that number of books we've posted isn't an accurate number of what we've read. But are they representative? Are the higher numbers more frequent readers? Or just readers with a stronger online presence?

    Pulling out causal relations without randomized experimentation can be tricky. Doing so with one sampling of archival data is difficult, but the breadth and simplicity of online data surveys makes big-data a powerful tool.

    Does my 4.22 rating mean I am very optimistic? Or does it mean that I am a lover of all books? Or that I only read books that I really like? Or that I only rate books that I really like, and leave the mediocre ones unrated? Or that I'm being paid by various publishing houses to endorse their books and boost their ratings? Hmmmm... I know the answer, do you?

    The Goodread stats give no definitive answers perhaps, but lots of intriguing areas of investigation. With a few more data points you could nail down even more. I've seen studies using the items people like on facebook or their posts' word content to accurately predict age, gender, religion, political beliefs, and sexual orientation. Every action carries a tell-tale ripple of information in its wake.

  3. Well because we have other informal data points Joseph, we are all aware that you make tons of money in kickbacks from Amazon of books that you endorse. :) And yes, I was being very lazy by just cursorily looking at the easiest to glean of Goodreads data. And since we do know each other's reading habits in general it IS probably more like a single data point about personal use of social media. So, should we add facebook, twitter, pinterest and other stats to this? Uh.. if we wanted to, I guess we could. But since we already know each other...

  4. Richard--I certainly hope you are reading! How is Northanger Abbey going, by the way? :)

    Joseph--I agree with everything you said, though I would like to add: if you had a deal where you were paid for reading books, you'd let us in on it.... right?

    Dad--I have very little to say in regards to my personal stats. I rarely rate books because I find that my feelings about each book changes over time. And, as we've previously discussed it's a rather ambiguous/nonstandard rating system. People use it in different ways. One man's five is another man's four (or so I've been told). I find goodreads most useful as a tool for tracking books I'm interested in reading, rather than one's I've read. With this in mind, I've collected more data! Here is everyone listed by number of "to read" books: Dad-7, Joseph-7, Andrew-0, Adrianna-24, Myself-23.

    Also, I didn't really get into Elementary until towards the second half of the first season, when they stopped trying to be gritty/edgy and instead focused on actual character development.