“[I]t’s a fascinating glimpse into a writer when an incongruous book appears; as the poet responsible for some of the 20th century’s most heart-rending poems, a celebration of the Marx Brothers was a treat to see on W. H. Auden’s shelves.”
Legacy Libraries is a typical LibraryThing side-project—interesting, slightly off-kilter and stitched together by a cadre of passionate obsessives. (Its leader and most passionate cataloger is Jeremy Dibbell.) Like LibraryThing itself, it was laughed-off initially but is growing into something more than anyone expected.
I think I know why. On the web more is different and connected is different. Most—but not all—the Legacy Libraries were available in some offline form. You could, for example, find Sowerby’s printed catalog of Thomas Jefferson’s books in most research libraries. But something new happens on when anyone, from a high school student to you, whoever you are, can browse and search Jefferson’s books, in his classification and with his notes, at any time of the day, stack your own books up against Jefferson’s, or compare both to scores of other famous statesmen, writers, queens, pornographers and rappers.
In other news, I’m currently on a train to New York, from which I fly to Athens, with a day-long layover, and then Alexandria, Egypt, where I am due to talk at Wikimania 2008, the annual Wikipedia/Wikimedia conference. I’m talking on “LibraryThing and Social Cataloging.”
I plan to center my talk on how LibraryThing’s social production, or “Social Cataloging,” stacks up against the Wikipedia model and similar projects. I think there are some interesting similarities, and more interesting departures.
For more thoughts on Wikimania and Wikipedia see Thingology.