Blog posts tagged "allconsuming"

On Book Listing Services

November 6th, 2005

For years I’ve wanted a decent website where I can manage my relationship with books. (not especially complicated, but voluminous)

For a while there was largely nothing, then there was Allconsuming which was wonderful, but slowly died, and went dark before being re-incarnated in the mold of a 43x tool. And I have this memory of there being a nifty little $14/mo tool, back in the days when I didn’t pay for websites, but I wasn’t able to find it.

Last Fall, I started sketching down notes towards building my own, and in the intervening year its become an interestingly crowded space. (who knew so many other people felt the pull) Even in the 6 weeks since I first started jotting down sites for this blog post, the space has evolved with LibraryThing coming out solidly on top as the most active: most actively developed, most actively used, and most actively engaged developer.

That said, in a cursory search (mostly of my del.icio.us links) I turned up 5 other very similar services

Also the Bookshelf example app from 24L, and the intersting related services What Should I Read Next?, and Library Elf

None of them are quite there yet, and I want more, more, more!

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All Consuming Taken Over By Robots!

May 25th, 2005

2002 was a good year for innovation, and All Consuming was one of my favorite site that came out that year. I used it, I recommended it, I wrote scripts based on it. But slowly it drifted into unusability, got slower, didn’t evolve, and eventually I went back to using Amazon as my site for proxying books onto the web.

3 years later its been revived (in 24 hours!), and is now being officially hosted as a Robot Coop app! This is great. Because there is sooo much more I’d like to see done with it! (Haven’t decided if this is good enough reason to stop hacking on my Rails book management app which is still just some quick sketches in a notebook)

That said, I’m a little ambivalent of the last of focus in the new app. Not sure if its snobbery, or segregationist tendencies, but I don’t want to share the website with non-book like media. But thats a minor quibble.

The Robots have always said that 43 Things was just the first of a long list of good ideas they wanted to roll out, and here we have their second app. Congrats guys.

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Netflix Friends, Privacy, and the Network

January 10th, 2005

One of the things I’ve always kind of liked about Netflix is the curtain of privacy it tosses around your viewing habits. It isn’t like you can rent porn on Netflix, but still you are alone with your tastes and indiscretions. Netflix is in a position to collect incredibly accurate information about viewing habits, because both renting and rating are done in private. Netflix Friends changes that dynamic.

With Netflix Friends you can see what your friends are watching and share your favorite movies with them.

Renting and in particular rating are once again performative acts. There is a real value there, and in services like Audioscrobbler, or All Consuming, or 43 Things, and even the undirected social network sites like Orkut or Friendster, and yet …

I mean, I already maintain a blog, do I really want to share what I’m listening to, what I’m reading, what I’m watching, what I’m working on, and who I know? I don’t know. I just know that even though I’m flirting with Netflix Friends, I am very aware of the virtual clinking of coins, as I barter a little more privacy for a little more leveraged access to the network.

(I also predict that Netflix will over the next 6 months see an increasing disconnect between what people rate high, and what they watch, the Masterpiece Theater vs. Jerry Springer syndrome, and an associated degradation in the quality of their data.)

When Nielsen used log-books to gather information on the viewing habits of their sample families, the results were heavily skewed to Masterpiece Theater and Sesame Street. Replacing the journals with set-top boxes that reported what the set was actually tuned to showed what the average American family was really watching: naked midget wrestling, America’s Funniest Botched Cosmetic Surgeries and Jerry Springer presents: “My daughter dresses like a slut!”

update: tom is already experiencing the “social” side of it all.

Allconsuming Soap

January 22nd, 2003

So I wrote up my own little SOAP client to Allconsuming, which, while not nearly as cool as booktalk, works nicely to maintain my little READING sidebar. (though as you can see in the case of Applying Patterns there are still some aesthetic tweaks to make). Get the script and the template.

By the way, it looks a little different then DJ’s because SOAP::Lite’s autodispatch+ feature breaks Template Toolkit (and is kind of icky anyway)

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Two Towers?

January 22nd, 2003

According to Allconsuming, and Google, Golublog is a friend of mine. Not sure who they are, but I like, Thought Expirement.

…the question is all the more pressing in light of the Two Towers, which was basically a three hour long George Lucas smack down.

It is part of a genre of Two Towers bait and switch blog entries (hixie’s Birthday Movie being the other example) that I feel speak to a culture wide lowered expectation that Jackson is upsetting.

Will now stop blogging obsessively, while waiting for client to call. Wireless router is proving dangerous.

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Allconsuming Passion for Books

January 22nd, 2003

I finally get it.

So I looked at Allconsuming a few times, didn’t sign in, didn’t really get it.

Went back this morning, futzed with it, was confused by the interface for a little while, and then my head exploded. I’m in love. This is the site I was looking for when I wrote the entry on book metadata, and its author was kind enough to respond to my entry and too self-effacing to point out the obvious to me.

Its an amazing site, a beautiful web app (in a functional way), capitalizes on the new social, semantic distributed blogo network better then anything I’ve encountered, and is whip smart.

Favorite flourish

I clicked on the “edit friends list”, with a certain trepidation, as I never know the protocols for declaring someone “a friend” in these online communities. Allcomsuming short circuited this problem by asking Google who my friends are:
rabble, dru, micah, pseudopunk, and a few names I didn’t recognize. Wild. Also community driven meta-data!

Next Step

You are supposed to integrate Allconsuming with your site using one of those cool javascript include thingys (which protest.net v2 is going to have in abundance), and while I think they are cool, I’m going to spend a little bit this morning working up a script to talk to AC’s SOAP interface instead.

Sorry to burrble so early in the morning, but I’m excited.

Related

By the way, I went back and gave Allconsuming a second look, after reading about DJ Adams’ (of Jabber fame) booktalk which in turn tracks its heritage to Jon Udell’s LibraryLookup service, which allows you to browse your local library from Amazon (no support for Providence Public yet), and his column on said service.(via snowdeal)

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A Definitive URI for Books?

January 4th, 2003

Books, Conversations and Semantic Web

I like books. Alot. And I think the conversations about books that have arisen on the web are cool. Projects like Bookwatch and All Consuming turn the proliferation of personal reading lists, into a distributed web of collaborative filtering.

But I’ve got a problem. All of these systems require that a book have a uniquely identifying URI (its a sneaky back door application of the semantic web), and the ad-hoc standard that has arisen is Amazon. There are a number of compelling reasons to link to Amazon: decent information, community and proffessional reviews, and of the whole associates thing. And there are reasons not to link to Amazon, primarily I don’t want people buying their books from Amazon but from their local bookstores! Also you are: bombarded with ads for People’s magazine, Epson printers, and clean underwear, tracked and indexed, and have handed over the keys to controlling conversations about books to a single corporation who aspire to be just like Walmart, not the what I look for in a Muse.

Alternatives: In Search of a Definitive URI

Now books do have a unique identifier, their ISBN, so at some level we can be linking them across various URI schemes, and while not ideal it might be a place to start. So what else can we use?

Booksense is a possibility. Booksense is a great idea, its a coalition of independent bookstores that share reccomendations, book certificates, and a website. Unfortunately their website sucks. If I want to link to Dubious Hills by Pamela Dean, a book which is out of print, and no one in my zip code happens to be carrying it, I can’t. Booksense only display information about books in your area in a misbegotten idea to drive people locally. I’ve tried several times to talk to them about this failure of their website, that you don’t get anywhere by slamming shut the door in peoples face, but they are un-interested in listening. That and they expose the implementation of the site in their URLs (booksense.com/product/info.jsp?isbn=$ISBN) which does not reccomend the the longevity of their URIs.

The Library of Congress has potential with a catchy, short URL, besides being logical. But is even worse. Its slow, confusing, and does not, as far as I can tell, I expose any sort of permanent URL.

There have been interesting expirements with setting up book sites based on trackbacks, like the Book Review repository, but I don’t believe these have the potential to be the definitive URIs, more likely they will be consumers of such.

So I’m kind of out of ideas? Anybody else have a reccomendation?

In the short term it would be nice if people writing book crawlers supported Booksense as well, but I understand why they wouldn’t as Booksense is really shooting themselves in the foot. (I mentioned this idea to Bookwatch at one point, not sure what became of it)

I’ve asked Aidan to look into how much it costs to get a digital copy of books in print, but I imagine its prohibitively expensive, and not something that is feasible for a personal hobby project.

Closing Thoughts

The one positive idea I’ve thought about is, if we can come up with something good, then it would be very simple to get great penetration by adding support for it as a macro in Moveable Type, e.g. ISBN:$ISBN and auto-construct the URL.

And a final qualifier, if you see me linking to Amazon in the future, know that it is merely a recognition of their dominant position in the market place as the only decent provider of book meta-data, and not a reccomendation to buy from them.

update: isbn.nu could be a good book namespace, and allcosuming does support booksense, and more. see comments for details.

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