Thursday, March 15th, 2007

“Wow, data is fun.”

There’s a nifty post over on the Google Book Search Blog where Google engineer Matthew Gray charts locations mentioned in books on a world map, and then filters by publication date into a series. Gray notes that it picks up the westward expansion of the United States. It picks up some other events too. The Scramble for Africa is noticeable, if from a largely British perspective.

I like the way he closes—”Wow, data is fun.” My feelings exactly. It’s why LibraryThing has five recommendation algorithms (not counting two I’m hiding). It’s why we have a “fun statistics” page that reports on users with whom you share the only two copies of a work on LibraryThing (the much misunderstood Vous et nul autre feature). It’s why I’m giddy that LibraryThing has the largest collection of book tags on the web.

But not everyone has query-level access to LibraryThing’s data. We need to get more out there, so members and passers-by can play with LibraryThing’s increasingly rich dataset as I do. We’ll have some news on that front soon.

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