Just a reminder, you’ve still got a few hours to post your photos for the Harry Potter book pile contest…
Archive for July, 2007
Thursday, July 26th, 2007
So, it looks like Saturday is going to involve lightning, so the barbeque has morphed into a pizza party.
Everyone is invited. Bring a friend. If you can RSVP, great. If not, that’s fine. We’re probably going to need to order the pizza beforehand. We’re going to double the RSVP list. If you like, you can bring something .
When: Saturday, July 28th, 4pm to whenever.
Parking: The City of Cambridge has declared Saturday LibraryThing day***. You can park anywhere on Gurney Street and between Gurney and Huron on Fayerweather.
Can’t wait to see everyone!
*When Emma’s was at the foot of Gurney Street, when I was young, it was decidedly less upscale. There were no tables—just a counter nobody used—and the ambiance was comprised of Emma berating her meek husband Greg in angry, staccato Armenian all day long. When the current owners bought it they moved it to Kendall Square, avoided marital conflict, added tables and the goat cheese, sun dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts today’s Cambridge requires. Somehow they managed to preserve what was good about it. It’s an amazing pizza.
**Alas, Tim’s trademark sigara börek will not fit with the rest of the meal.
Wednesday, July 25th, 2007
A tenth book-swapping site has chosen to integrate with LibraryThing, ReadItSwapIt.
ReadItSwapIt is a UK site, and boasts some 125,000 titles available right now. Here’s the page on LibraryThing showing copies of a book on ReadItSwapIt. They’ve got a bang-up buzz page. It’s a credit-free system. This is a bold move, but not unattractive. As they explain it:
“Swapping on ReadItSwapIt is like swapping with friends. If you like each other’s books, you swap. If you don’t, either of you can reject the swap.
Many swap sites operate a credit system. That means, instead of swapping books, these sites allow you to swap credits. Any time anyone wants a book of yours, they give you a credit and you post the book out to them. You can then use this credit later to get a book sent to you by someone else.
This sounds great on the surface. But in practice, the problem with this system is that whenever anyone requests any of the books you have registered, you have to post out that book immediately. It doesn’t matter how inconvenient it might be for you to get to the post office that week. And what if you go on holiday? You have to let the site know. You have no control over the amount of swaps you make. You could end up acquiring loads of credits but not be able to find any books you like on the site. So you’re left with a load of worthless credits, no books and a big postage bill.”
That rings true to my experience. I posted a book to a swap site, and then dithered when I got the email. My wife decided she wanted to read it too. I ended up buying the book on Amazon and having it expressed to the swap person, just to save face. People like me need a more forgiving system.
I’m also impressed by their commitment to accessibility It’s way more than LibraryThing does.
Wednesday, July 25th, 2007
Check out the little boom for the movie (released July 11) and the crazy boom-bust-boom around when the book itself was released. For 24 hours, LibraryThing Harry Potter fans were reading, dammit.
I can report from experience that the rest of the world is still reading it. I went down to New York on business yesterday (and got caught in LaGuardia overnight, but that’s another story). The plane was like Harry Potter study hall.
REMINDER: We’re giving away prizes to 50 Harry Potter reviewers.
Tuesday, July 24th, 2007
Short version: I’ve just gone live with a new feature called “tagmash,” pages for the intersections of tags. This is a fairly obvious thing to do, but it isn’t trivial in context. In getting past words or short phrases, tagmash closes some of the gap between tagging and professional subject classifications.
For example, there is no good tag for “France during WWII.” Most people just don’t tag that verbosely. Tagmash allows for a page combining the two: France, wwii. If you want to skip the novels, you can do france, wwii, -fiction. The results are remarkably good.
Tagmash pages are created when a user asks for the combination, but unlike a “search” they persist, and show up elsewhere. For example, the tagmash for France, Germany shows France, wwii as a partial overlap, alongside others. Related tagmashes now also show up on select tag and library subject pages, as a third system for browsing the limitless world of books.
Booooring? Go ahead and play a bit:
- Tagmash: alcohol, history
- Tagmash: dogs, humor
- Tagmash: historical fiction, renaissance
- Tagmash: erotica, zombies
- Tagmash: french, philosophy, -existentialism, -postmodernism
That’s the short version. But stop here and you’ll never know what Zombie Listmania is!
Saturday, July 21st, 2007
I’ve added some spice to the home page—a section showing the books added recently. It updates every five seconds. The “last five minutes” section can go above 600. This one was taken during a slow patch.* But, hey—two Harry Potters!
It’s an experiment to see if being more up-front about the size and dynamism of the site will draw more users in. As one user ably described it, LibraryThing’s home page looks about the same now as it did twelve months ago. See more discussion of the experiment here. Whether it stays on the home page, we’re going to playing with features like this.
Tomorrow: Tags grow up.
*Saturday night is our nadir. And this weekend is for reading Harry Potter, not playing with LibraryThing. I note, for example that the Hogwarts Express group, one of our most active, has gone from near hysteria to eerie quiet!
Friday, July 20th, 2007
It’s almost 12:01 here. Any moment now, the first copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will come available, and LibraryThing members across the US will start reading. (Some other parts of the world have already begun.) I wouldn’t be surprised if the first reviews were posted by noon tomorrow. Sounds like a good excuse for a contest, right?
We already have a Harry Potter Book Pile photo contest (one entry shown on the right). Well, how about a review contest too? The deal:
- Five reviewers get a $50 gift certificate to Amazon, Abebooks, Booksense or any independent bookseller.
- Fifty get a free membership (for them or as a gift), a handy CueCat barcode scanner, for entering more of their books, and eternal glory.
- We end it Monday, August 6.
LibraryThing is a gloriously supportive community. So we’re going to do it a little differently:
- We’re going to use the new review-rating feature.
Liam Weasley, with Scabbers
As many know, this only allows “thumbs-up” ratings.
- The five reviews with the most thumbs-ups will win the bigger prize.
- The rest will be randomly picked from all members who both wrote a review and voted for others’ reviews.
That is, we’re rewarding participation and generosity most of all.
I’m looking forward to seeing how it turns out.* We’re going to have anti-abuse measures in place, and we think the top five will be clean.** The interest level will be very high. After all, the Harry Potter group on LibraryThing has seen some 11,532 messages.
Have fun tonight. Me? I’m watching over the littlest Weasley, while my wife and niece party with the wizards.
*If we get a lot of sock-puppet votes, we may make the top-five part of the contest only count votes from established members.
**But I won’t be reading the reviews myself. I am stuck in book five, recently restarted. Arg.
Friday, July 20th, 2007
Thursday, July 19th, 2007
As promised, we’re throwing a big cookout party, open to everyone. Bring your kids, your dogs, your books, and prepare yourself for Tim’s grilling prowess…
When: Saturday, July 28th, 4pm—whenever.
RSVP! [Tim writes:] We’re throwing it at my parent’s house. My mother is beside herself with the idea that everyone with an internet connection will show up. She begs me to get some RSVPs. So, if you’re planning on coming, RSVP. But don’t let not RSVPing stop you.
We’ve applied for a don’t-ticket-us parking permit for the day, so you’ll be able to park on Gurney Street and a neighboring street.
Can’t wait to see everyone!
*Google has it wrong. The name of the street is Gurney. “Revere’s Corner” stems from a city of Cambridge sign for “Reeve’s Corner.” Cambridge and the neighboring communities do a lot of this—calling intersections “corners” and naming them after local worthies, mostly war dead (but not here). It’s a great thing to do, I suppose, but it sure messes up Google.