Wednesday, July 16, 2008

LibraryThing thing

This is a very interesting resource. I can see how could be valuable in various ways.

However, I don't see it as serving immediately important needs for me. I need to explore it over time.

I'm not concerned to have other people know what I read (though it's not a secret), and I'm not necessarily interested in knowing that about others (particular people I don't know).

Perhaps looking at similarly tagged titles and the automated recommendations could serve as a sort of Readers Advisory. I'll experiment with that.

I'm also accustomed to the strategy of organizing information into categories—though I know the limitations of that approach. (For example, my Outlook email account now has almost 200 folders and sub-folders...and sub-sub-folders...and I sometimes forget which overlapping category I've filed emails in.)

Since I've been blogging for several years, I'm familiar with tags (presumably a popularization of the more formal meta-tagging done by coders and catalogers of digital information.)

For me the challenge of relying on tags is that I need to visualize organization of info, and I have not yet found a way to do that with tags.

The closest I get is the device of "tag clouds." Here's mine from LibraryThing:

But this only shows frequency of tags, not relationship of tags.

There's another approach which I first saw around 2000 in a library school cataloging course. It's a different sort of cloud:

This is a great Readers' Advisory tool, because it displays relationships visually. The text says:

What else do readers of Karin Lowachee read?
The closer two writers are, the more likely someone will like both of them.
Click on a name to travel along.
This "author cloud" comes from Literature-Map, a part of Gnooks, a self-adapting community system based on the gnod engine. The whole thing is created by Marek Gibney.

In any event, here's my catalog. It's not necessarily what I'm reading now or what I recommend, but it's drawn from a list of "most influential books" which I've published elsewhere.



Jason said...

Hi Mike!

I've found Library Thing pretty useful for readers advisory. For instance, I select a lot of books for our homebound patrons. A lot of them are really into Christian romances. I couldn't have told you the difference between Janette Oke and Linda Howard before. But doing a tag search on Library Thing for "Christian Fiction" and "romance" gives a pretty good overview of what's popular in that genre.

I've also started to keep track of what I've read in the last year, and it's pretty interesting to see that tag clouds that you produce.

Martha said...

I have a friend who uses it, but I have some reservations about putting my catalog out there for all and sundry...