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Anatomy of a (Twit)Book Club meeting

October 17, 2010 Leave a comment

October 16th 2010

11 o’clock, I arrive at Wild Peeta, the current venue for our book club gatherings.  The place is quiet on a Saturday morning, so it is the ideal location to host our sometimes loud and often bizarre discussions.  Nominally the meeting kicks off on the hour, but I only see @TDAllonsy, set up behind her mac.  “UAE time,” she says with a sigh.  I empty my pockets at my seat, a habit I display when my better half is not around to supply carrying capacity in the form of a handbag, and get a coffee.

We catch up, and the others start trickling in – @WajihaSaid, who charged herself with snapping some pictures of the meet. Which of course didn’t stop half of everybody else from later on snatching the camera to try their hand at it. @Theregos, who as always provides the extra incentive in the form of cupcakes.  Today it was coffee and walnut. Enough said. @Zooberry, @Shaahima, @Hamna_ (dubbed our resident Niqabi), @Aabo0 and @RupertBu, the man behind the twitter handle of the Sharjah International Book Fair (@ShjIntlBookFair / #shjibf).

Order is brought to the table and we settle down to the business of the day. First on the agenda is discussing the choices made two months back.  Previously titles used to be discussed one month after being selected, but people found it hard to find availability in the local stores, so the gap was widened to two months for this purpose.

Next up we discuss each person’s submission for next month’s selection, after which a vote is taken to choose three.  Other book clubs might choose just one per meeting, but in our case the idea is to have a wider selection to read from to further encourage reading.  Previously four books used to be chosen, but now, to keep true to the “Twit” element of the TwitBookClub, the last book is chosen via online submissions and voting.  Current selections can be seen here.

To see the full tweet-by-tweet update on the goings on, you can either lookup @TwitBookClub (the official twitter handle for the club), or search twitter using the hashtag #TwitBookClub to catch other people’s contributions to the conversation.  I would have liked to include a snippet here on the post, but I have on this occasion found myself to be technologically impaired.  Note to non-Twitter users: the “at” sign @ indicates the twitter handle, or nickname, a person uses on Twitter.  The “number” sign, properly known as a hashtag, is used to index certain terms so that one can search tweets containing said terms and keep track of such mentions.

Before closing Rupert briefed us on the upcoming Sharjah International Book Fair (26th Oct – 6th Nov), now in its 29th edition.  Previously this used to showcase literature in Arabic only,  whereas this year they opened up the scope to include English literature.  A number of authors and industry names will be making an appearance in talks or workshops, among them:

  • Zohra Saed & Sahar Muradi (American Afghan lecturers and authors of “One Story, Thirty Stories”)
  • Samar Jarrah (author of “Arab voices speak to American Hearts”)
  • Yasmina Jraisatti (First European based Arabic Literary Agent)
  • Shelina Janmohammed (Number 1 best selling author of “Love in a Headscarf”)
  • Octavia Nasr (previously with CNN)

Other info, date and location details on the site.

People sometimes exclaim on twitter that they didn’t have the time to read any of the selections, usually on the eve of the meeting.  It is a misconception that reading the books is compulsory, when in fact it is not.  It is desirable of course, as that’s the point of the whole show, but anyone is welcome to come and join the discussion.  In the end it is just a gathering of like minded people discussing a common interest.

He’s Back

November 11, 2009 Leave a comment

After the initial worry, everyone is relieved that he’s (been) back (for a while now).

twitstamp.com

twitstamp.com

More on the issue here.

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Come Back Stephen

November 1, 2009 1 comment

Image via Wikepedia

Yesterday saw the surprise decision by popular British personality Stephen Fry to quit Twitter.  It followed an online altercation with a fellow tweeter, who dubbed Stephen’s posts as boring.  While it may be considered over-reacting, Fry admitted that it happened during a negative time for him, and so he bid farewell to his followers.  Adding context to the situation it has now been widely reported that he occasionally suffers from a depressive mental condition.  He later posted another comment stating he might change his mind after his situation improves.

Stephen Fry is an iconic figure, popular with a wide demographic due to his wit and intelligence, but also for his fascination with gadgets and everything geeky.  He regularly reviews latest smartphone releases in detail.  I am a big fan of one of his current TV projects, QI (Quite Interesting) – although I am seriously pissed off at the BBC (or whoever is responsible for such decisions) for not releasing any further seasons to DVD following the third.

He actually maintained two personas on Twitter: @StephenFry his personal account from which he published snippets of his current endeavours, as well as @MrsStephenFry his alter-ego.  In “her” words: “Stephen’s poor, down-trodden wife and mother of his six kids.”  Together they used  to host a number of online gatherings at Fry’s, a virtual cafe where people are invited to meet and make friends.

While life will go on without Twitter I sincerely hope that he returns.  I used to enjoy the occasional tweet, and really appreciated the fact that a public figure is making an effort to keep in touch with his fans.  So, a big get well soon and come back Stepehen.

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