Monday, February 9th, 2009

One million facts


“Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!” — first paragraph of DickensHard Times

Three cheers for LibraryThing’s dilligent members. Our Common Knowledge system has hit 1,000,000 member contributions.

Common Knowledge is an innovative “fielded wiki” for book information—collaborative, piecemeal “cataloging” of information about books and authors. We created it back in October 2007—Chris did most of the coding—and it has exceeded our expectations.

The focus is on things not found anywhere else—not cataloged by librarians or publishers. The system’s biggest strength is probably is series coverage, 26,890 and counting. More comprehensive than paid series data, it is also often of higher quality. There is surely no library in the world that accounts for the Star Wars series (plural) better than what LibraryThing members have assembled! Common Knowledge also tracks some 8,860 awards, from the Wolfson History Prize to Nestlé Smarties Book Prize.

Fun, if not quite as full, are lists of 78 books with Lincoln in them, and 23 with Emma Goldman and Puck. Almost 1,700 books take place in New York, 90 in Mars and 49 in Hell. Some 626 authors went to Harvard, three were gas station attendants and four were burried in Uppsala Cathedral. No doubt, there are more of all, but the data is starting to really pile up—a confirmation that Social Cataloging is no joke.

Wherever Common Knowledge goes, it will not be locked up. All Common Knowledge data is free for reuse outside the site, with a handy API as well.

Picking up. The one-millionth entry came early. Edits picked up dramatically when, ten days ago, I introduced a Dead or Alive? page for every member, allowing you to find out how your authors break down on the living/dead scale. They went through the roof when I introduced a similar Male or Female? page. CK also attracted some interest from the initial release of distinct authors—a method for distinguishing between distinct, homonymous authors. (It was a busy weekend.)

The one-millionth Common Knowledge entry was added at 6:47pm (EST) by ladybug1983, who assigned the contemporary romance Taking the Heat as the third book in the series O’Neil Family.

Hey LadyBug, want a t-shirt?

Labels: common knowledge, social cataloging

0 Comments:

Leave a Reply