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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October 26th, 2005
It is interesting to sit on a blog post for 3 weeks, and see how well they age. Most age very badly, but some age badly for excellent reasons, i.e. the world changes. (politics are a great example of this right now, but that isn’t what I’ll be talking about)
Digital Lifestyle Aggregation: Using My Friends
I’ve had this persistent idea, nagging me, that somehow I should be able to use my Flickr contacts to filter the overwhelming amount of data that gets pushed at me, with the small idea being if I had a way to capture the del.icio.us accounts of all my various contacts, then I could at least build a smarter del inbox. I had started to sketch out a tool (I was thinking ning) called “theyisthey” to keep track of relationships I know between people’s various identities. (43people subscriptions are one step in this direction, and certainly an indication of how social software can be used for purposes more interesting them high score lists.)
Hear the Good News
Well we showed up en masse (Brian, Ben, Eric Hopp, Jared, Mako, Seth and I) to the Joshua’s Berkman lunch yesterday, and the most explosively interesting thing I thought he said (beyond some numbers which Brian wrote down) was that “networks” are in the works. A replacement for del’s broken inbox metaphor, networks are 1-way, opaque social networks that you can build to not only filter content, but also enhance it. (e.g. when tagging a link, see the tags and notes from everyone in your network who has also tagged this link, or install the Firefox plugin to see your networks notes on webpages in the wild)
(also count it, 5 Hampshire alumns in the house, we offered to make Seth an honoray Hampshire alumn, but he turned us down)
August 2nd, 2005
Not sure why O’Reilly is getting into the yet another social network site space, but having spent 10 minutes playing with O’Reilly Connection, a couple of quick comments.
Finally they’re going to do something with all that user generated content across the O’Reilly Network sites. For some reason they’ve never been able to catalyze decent user community around all that content, but at least having persistent profiles will help. (not that I’m in a position to criticize as I explicitly passed on the opportunity to help them make it better, when I went to Groundspring)
Tags, Not Just a Gimmick
The closest thing to innovation is the heavy use of tags. Interestingly spending a couple of minutes filling out my profile reminded me that Friendster had a similar impl. of tags back in the day, we just none of us knew thats what they were.
Everybody and their dog is adding tags to their apps these days, but its interesting to see it working on Connection. More then an amusing (or annoying) toy, tags on Connection really enhance the browsability/discoverability of the site, and as discovery is the primary (non-broken) activity of a social network site, this is key.
Couple that with Flickr’s new “Explore” features, and I think we’re starting to see a push to towards non-search techniques for discovery, a realization that perhaps Google has been a false plateau.
January 20th, 2005
People are still too stiff and rigid with their tagging technique. Loosen up. You don’t have to find the “right category” to put something into, that is part of the tyranny and inflexibility of a classification scheme that we’re trying to get away from. Don’t tell me what it is, the “truth” of it as it were. Tell my why it matters.
For example I use the tag “inspiration” to keep track of ideas I want to steal, or think about more on my various projects. (inspiration+redesign are my first notes towards a Magpie re-design)
Variations on toread, and *toread are in wide use as useful meta-tags, and a handful of people are using variants to track specific research projects, or tasks.
Marnie is experimenting with the tag nptech to build a community of non-profit tech workers, we’re using a different tag for the our anarchist tech work, and there are a handful of bibliographies being organized around a specific indicator tag.