Sunday, October 22nd, 2006

CueCats in the Wild

Inquisitive CueCat trips our remote camera

CueCat at rest

CueCat toys with its prey

CueCats preparing to migrate

CueCats blocked and drooled on

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Friday, October 20th, 2006

Arrr… SwapThing

LibraryThing welcomes its sixth swap site, SwapThing.com. As with the others, SwapThing has agreed to share holding data with LibraryThing. See it in action here

SwapThing describes itself as follows:

“SwapThing enables the trade and barter of any combination of items and services between consumers and small businesses, using cash to offset unequal exchanges. SwapThing offers free registration and listing, with transaction fees of $1.00 for each exchange of goods, no matter how many items are in the swap, and of $10.00 for the exchange of services. Unlike competitors, SwapThing is barter-based as opposed auction-based, allowing completely private, one-on-one negotiations. The SwapThing search engine matches items offered to items wanted, a unique system of direct exchange between users, and a rating system to build trustworthiness.”

Just so there’s no doubt, “LibraryThing is not affiliated with SwapThing in any way, just great minds thinking alike. LibraryThing and SwapThing are trademarks of LibraryThing.com, LCC and SwapThing, Inc. respectively.”

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Wednesday, October 18th, 2006

Three changes: Search talk, show covers, more space

Chris and I have added a feature to search Talk. It works as you would expect. The basic search does all topics in all groups, but you can choose only your groups, your starred topics, etc.

This will probably occasion additional requests—boolean operators, stemming, etc. That’s great, but we wanted to get something out there now. The lack of search didn’t matter so much in the first week or so, but Talk is getting to be quite a rich, complex area!

Chris rigged it up so that you can now adjust the number of covers shown in “Cover view” independent of how many you show in list mode. We have bigger plans for “Cover view,” but this was an easy change to make.

Some text boxes–the ones on the “edit” page, but I’m open to others–now sport “more space” links. Click them and the text box gets bigger. It’s ideal for those long review-types. You know who you are…

Issue update: Is anyone having problems loading the page? Someone with MSIE 7 said the program choked, apparently on Scriptaculous, a much-used JS library that I’ve employed here.

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Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

Arr… Lendmonkey

LendMonkey

LibraryThing has joined forces with a fifth swap site, the simple, playful and Lendmonkey. Lendmonkey trades movies, games, books and music—all for free. It has some nice features, like SMS notification of new trades.* Also check out profiles on eHub and Lifehacker.

Since announcing the program in September, LibraryThing has enlisted five book and all-media swap sites (the others are Bookins, Swapsimple, BookMooch, Whatsonmybookshelf). I expect to add two more in the next week. That will make a majority of sites and—I think—well more than a majority of books available for swapping online.

*I should ask them about that. SMS would be a nice addition to LibraryThing.

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Monday, October 16th, 2006

Six degrees of vampire smut

I’ve got some “big” news on hold, so I’ll throw out a game.

I keep planning to blog “Three degrees of Jane Austen,” on how almost LibraryThing shares a book with someone who shares a book with someone who owns something by Jane Austen. People share books much more than they share friends. So while it’s comforting that everyone in the world is six degrees away by acquaintance, they’re much closer by the shared mental universe of the book.

Today’s game is to try to get from one tag page to another, using the “related tags” box, using as few hops as possible.

Challenge number 1: Vampire smut to Spanish Civil War in 10 steps. I’ll bet someone can do a lot better.

vampire smut > mystery > historical > history > sociology > economics > capitalism > radicalism > anarchism > Spanish Civil War

Challenge number 2: Tarzan to Iceland
Challenge number 3: Mesoamerica to zombies

I made a group for LibraryThing challenges, with a post for this. Post your solutions on the blog or over there.

Note: You cannot use fiction, nonfiction, read, unread, paperback, hardback, arc, signed, favorite, loved, wishlist or their variants. RULES UPDATE: You can’t add tags, obviously!

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Friday, October 13th, 2006

What language/site do you want?

Did I mention that LibraryThing is now available in a host of languages? Did I mention that users did it all, and that I love you people to pieces and owe everyone a beer? Okay, I’ve mentioned this.

I’m starting to work the language-sites into the functionality. For starters, past users can decide to change their primary language from your profile (choose “edit profile”). This isn’t actually the site you use–you can use whatever site you want, obviously. Rather, you’re setting the language you usually use for reviews, tags, etc. I’m going to guess right now that you guys–a polyglot set–will want to list all the languages you can read. I’ll provide that next. But can we live with one primary language for reveiws and tags and such? If not, the primary language will determine your default language, and I’ll let you change it review-by-review. It you plan to switch languages in the middle of a review, you win, dammit.

What you say will be used so German users can opt to see just German reviews, French users French reviews, etc. Of course, you will ALWAYS be able to see the others too.

From now on, if you signed into a particular language site, your primary language was set to that by default. Germans are in the lead, incidentally. I suppose that was because I introduced the feature at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Which reminds me, I never blogged about that. I’ll probably say more, but in brief I was dog-sick, with a voice like Joe Cocker, and the panel was in German, which I don’t understand. It went something like this: “Blah blah blah web 2.0. Blah blah blah MySpace. Blah blah blah blah LibraryThing. Ho ho ho. Aber, what does the Growling Phlegm-Monster have to say?”

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Thursday, October 12th, 2006

Orhan Pamuk wins the Nobel

You’ve probably already seen it, but Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk, author of My Name is Red and Snow, has won the Nobel Prize for Liturerature (official announcement). As something of a Turkophile*—albeit one who’s stuck half-way through Red—that’s great news.

I think this means three things:

  • The much-shortlisted Yaşar Kemal will die without a Nobel. He’s 83 and they’re not going to give it to two Turks in a short span of years.
  • Pamuk is now effectively immune from prosecution for “insulting Turkishness.” Much the same happened to Mahfouz, from being accused of apostasy for Children of Gebelawi and banned in much of the Arab world for supporting peace with Isreal, to being something of a national treasure, put to rest with a state funeral.
  • tr.LibraryThing.com needs to pick up! At least nine languages are usable and even Welsh is 40% translated, but Turkish is languishing in the single-digits. Why not celebrate Pamuk’s Nobel by entering all your Turkish books and doing a little translating of the site? LibraryThing even has a Turkish library on tap!

*Lived in Bodrum and Alanya for about a year total. Speak bad kitchen-Turkish. Note, a serious Hellenophile as well. Just take a look at my books! I HATE that I have to say this, but, from experience, I do.

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Tuesday, October 10th, 2006

Sixty libraries (15 added)

I’ve added 15 libraries:

US: Amherst/Hampshire/Mt. Holyoke/Smith, Bryn Mawr/Haverford/Swarthmore, Cornell University, Minerva (MAINE), UNC, Chapel Hill, University of Michigan, University of Notre Dame, University of Pennsylvania and—last but not least—the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, in case your books run to the ichthyological.
UK: University of Hull, University of Reading
Ireland: University College Cork
The Netherlands: Technische Universiteit Delft
Estonia: ELNET
Latvia: Library Information Network Consortium of Latvia

The news here is the return of a Dutch library (the University of Leuven died recently), and the first Estonian and Latvian libraries. Alas, no Lithuanian ones, although I’m guessing they have some Lithuanian holdings as well.

UPDATE: It just struck me that a lot of the “libraries” LibraryThing searches are actually consortia. Maybe we should start saying “Searches 500 libraries around the world.” Kinda bogus, but “60 libraries” underplayings things a lot. Hmmm…

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Tuesday, October 10th, 2006

YouTube and LibraryThing: Doing the math

If YouTube is worth $1.65 billion, and has 34 million visitors per month, is LibraryThing, with 1.29 million visitors per month, worth $62 million?

No. Anyway, how a “visitor” got to be worth $50 is beyond me. I’m a big YouTube visitor, and all I’ve done is suck down free bandwidth watching funtwo play the Pachelbel Canon and that George Washington rap, not to mention watching John Stewart clips that are probably not authorized and therefore part of YouTube’s enormous legal downside.

See the Message from Chad and Steve. I can’t decide how I feel about that message—amused or icky.

UPDATE: The only video tagged “LibraryThing” on YouTube is Richard Wallis of Talis demonstrating the LibraryThingThing. Pretty nice explanation, actually.

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Monday, October 9th, 2006

Super-sprøde!

I’m under the impression that the Danish sprøde, crispy, also means cool, or maybe cute. I know this–if I know this–from the song Super-sprøde, which (my beloved) Boston band Freezepop wrote for their Danish fans.* It is therefore my only word of Danish.

So, let me use this word to praise Ottox, who almost single-handedly translated LibraryThing into Danish, tranlating over 1,000 words, phrases and paragraphs, making him also the top translator overall. Thank you Ottox; you’re super-sprøde. I, and all future Danish LibraryThingers, thank you. You’re crispy as they come.

In other news, I’m back from the Frankfurt Book Fair, and working on the site again. I added host of languages—Bulgarian, Basque! (complete list)—and will be fleshing out some of the translation and “internationalization” features and, together with Abby, getting the word out to all the non-English language bloggers who’ve covered LibraryThing in the past.** With luck, LibraryThing can be as big a success in other languages as it’s been in English, and the “collective intelligence” of Bretons and Frisians will end up making the site better for Beantowners and Fogtowners as well.

UPDATE: I should similarly congratulate bookerij, who, while not SINGLEHANDEDLY translating Dutch, has done the lion’s share, as well as that of some other languages. Indeed, this morning, I awoke to discover Bookerij had 1081 edits, to Ottox’s 1080. That CAN’T be a coincidence!

UPDATE 2: The co-director of their recent video Parlez-vous Freezepop is a long-time, loyal LibraryThinger. Wow! Small world.

*Not a great song. I recommend “Duct Tape My Heart,” “Bike Thief,” “Science Genius Girl.” They combine an extremely cold form–not one I otherwise listen to–with warm, humane lyrics. Abby does not, I think, agree.
**Yes, author improvements are next.

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