I read a lot. When I’m not perusing technical manuals or coming to grips with white papers, I read for pleasure. Mostly travel books, often in languages other than English – although that is a story for another time. Have to say, I do adore Diabolik (Il Giallo a Fumetti) and really miss getting the copy each Thursday.

The last couple of days I inhaled two books. The first one is Seven Years in Tuscany by Amanda Ferragamo. Ms Ferragamo is a Brit from near Durham who married the shoe king’s son. While her book was not brilliantly edited and had some strange errors (jumbled sentences, a penchant for ‘phased’ instead of ‘fazed’) etc. she brings to life a massive renovation project Il Borro, and has a clear and honest voice that resonated with me. One thing I found interesting is that she had less of the horrors that non-Italians have renovating. By that I mean, the non-arrival of workmen and/or materials. Remind me to tell you my story of the Commune and the permesso. In the meantime head over to SlowTravelTalk for an online community (SlowTalk) that discusses Italy and Books about Italy. Go to the main page and you will see links for Blogs and webcams and moblogs and currency converters and all sorts of useful stuffz. SlowTravel is the main site I guess, but it’s very community based, pulling in feeds from the forums (SlowTalk) and Chat (SlowChat).

How Moderators are Selected

Moderators are selected because they are travelers; they love to travel and they understand Slow Travel. They are not necessarily experts on the different countries, but can guide people on the message board to help them find the information they need. The moderators run the message board – they make sure posts are in the correct forum, delete spam posts, edit posts to correct URLs or quotes or to remove offensive comments. They read the message board daily and keep up on travel information so they can step in to help answer travel questions when needed. The moderators also help run the web site by posting vacation rental, hotel and restaurant reviews and trip reports.

Personally, I would invite moderators from active members of the community, who work volunteer basis and promote the whole moderator/reviewer/editor thing as a reward for participation and leadership. Keeps costs down, makes the whole thing scaleable, offers incentives, so on and so forth. I’d also let the signed-up members create their own reviews but really I’m just tweaking. In Australia, Mr Daniel Petre and the Netus group might want to look at SlowTravelTalk as a prototype for travel.com.au – rip out ‘Our Experts’ and put in ‘You The Expert’ instead. Won’t take all of that 1.8 million dollars I promise you!

I was going to bitch on (again) about Amazon not really supporting community and true dialogue but noticed they have added Customer Discussions (Beta) Ask Questions, Share Opinions, Gain Insight so I’ll shut up for the time being. (I did post on the integrated forum, and it was goooood.)

What are Customer Discussions?
Customer Discussions allow you to share your questions, insights, and views about products available on Amazon.com with other customers and sellers. Read what others are saying about hot products, get knowledgeable answers, read product comparisons, and join in the fun of easy-to-use group discussions.

I can’t subscribe easily (.RSS) to the discussion which I think is a BIG mistake, and the permalink is a bit dodgy (I want an email when someone posts on a thread I created, thank you very much). Imagine people feeding Amazon swarms into their blogs and websites, and pulling with it those little Amazon ads. Plus returning time and again to argue about their books. Yum, tasty. Though does Amazon really need to sell any more copies of Da Vinci Code or Lord of the Rings?

How do I get back to a specific post?
Each post has a “permalink” link, a direct pointer to an individual post in a discussion. You can click this link and add it to your favorite bookmarks, or copy it from your browser’s address bar and send it in email.

Do messages impact my Top Reviewer ranking?
Top Reviewer rankings are based on Customer Reviews only. Your messages, and the votes cast on them, do not impact your Top Reviewer ranking.

Ten bucks says not only do they change that last policy but that they drop Top Reviewer and move all reviews from blog-style discussions to those new online-community-style forums. It’s discussion that brings people back time and again.

Back to our main subject, which was umm, books? Other online communities about Italy? Whatever. Do you think Chris Corrigan will come back, and if he does, will he still have his bike? (about the only thing I remember from my Cinema Nera studies at the Universita di Bergamo was i Ladri di Biciclette – The Bicycle Thieves!)

Crikey, look at the tags, willya! Ah well, a reminder for me to stay on topic and not dither around all over the place. Anyone found an applet yet that auto-inserts, or nearly auto, technorati tags?

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , enough already.