Tuesday, August 8th, 2006

EveryVisibleThing

Today’s the publication date of Every Visible Thing, by LibraryThing author—and my wife—Lisa Carey (website). Every Visible Thing and LibraryThing are actually contemporaries—she was finishing it up while I was coming up with the idea. The fact that they both have “Thing” in their titles is, however, coincidental.*

Pre-pub reaction has been encouraging. Library Journal and Kirkus gave it coveted starred reviews. Entertainment Weekly just gave it a short, rave but somewhat gross review—Lisa’s prose is said to “blossom like a bruise”—and it won the September Elle magazine Reader’s Prize (not yet online). I’m very proud of her, let me say.

Check out her website or publisher for more. In brief, here’s the end of the flap copy:

“A moving, lyrically written novel that captures the darkness of adolescence and the complex relationships within a family, Lisa Carey’s Every Visible Thing is a story born of grief and disillusionment that is ultimately a testament to the power of hope, faith, and love.”

*Her title is from Augustine, mine from Lovecraft. Different, those two.

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Monday, August 7th, 2006

MobuzzTV does the LibraryThing

Popular, perky vlog MobuzzTV did a great piece on LibraryThing (third on, after the Al Gore cartoon).

Amanda Congdon (late of Rocketboom) has my vlog heart, and giggly Cali Lewis of GeekBrief is a guilty pleasure, but Mobuzz’s Karina is no slouch.

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Saturday, August 5th, 2006

Cookout pictures

Except for the poisoning of John Blyberg*, the barbeque went great. We met lots of interesting people, established the superiority of Wild Oats’ “chocolate sandwich creams” by science and bought too much but not obscenely too much. Tim even managed to find someone to talk to about Greek twitch-divination texts. People drove from as far away as Providence, RI and Worcester, MA! Clearly we should do another in Cambridge, MA! (Date tba.)

Here are some pictures:


Axel, ready for fun

Liam, showing the colors

Tim, over his head

blind taste test

revelers
*Formerly of Blyberg.net.

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Friday, August 4th, 2006

Cookout reminder

This is just a friendly reminder that tomorrow evening, Tim and I (and Chris Gann) will be available to grill burgers for you. Anyone in the area, please come by! Festivities will begin around 5. You’ll find us in the yard behind 28 Atlantic Street in Portland, Maine.

We want to meet you! Please come!
(end plea)

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Friday, August 4th, 2006

What else are you on?

UPDATE: New feature of this feature–it WORKS!

Your profile now allows you to add links to yourself on some 30 sites and services, from AIM and Yahoo Messenger to MySpace, Skype, BookCrossing, even the “LibraryThings for wine” Cork’d and Winelog. Your already-entered AIM, Yahoo and ICQ names have been put into the new, more flexible system.

You will see a control like this when you edit your profile:

And here’s what it looks like on your profile.

I’m sure I missed some sites. As long as it has a user id-based URL, post it here and I’ll add it.

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Wednesday, August 2nd, 2006

Search your LibraryThing from your blog

Christopher has put together an extremely elegant new search widget. Put it on your blog and your visitors can search your library–or a group library–without having to go to LibraryThing. Color and size it various ways. It works like a dream, with animated “expanding” action. You are not as sexy as this, and never were.

Try it over on the left, or make your own. (Note: These is on my library, not yours.)

There is, of course, no reason it needs to be on a blog. Put it on your home page, or that of your church, academic department, bowling league, etc. It even relevancy ranks the results. (It beats your OPAC and it’s the size of a half-eaten stick of gum.)

Lastly, we’re not taking any guff about trivial features. This is an amazing piece of work. There are literally thousands of blogs sporting our original LibraryThing widgets. They are a great thing for LibraryThing—one of the main ways people find us. I’ll go so far as to say that, without the widgets, LibraryThing would have never succeeded, and I’d be making websites for lobster canneries.

PS: If you watch the site closely (many of you do), you’ll notice some major changes. They are already significant and will get bigger and “deeper.” We’re not going to blog about them again until we finish up.

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Tuesday, August 1st, 2006

100 LibraryThing Authors *

The 100th author to become a LibraryThing Author is Elizabeth Bear / matociquala, author of Hammered, and others. Congratulations to Elizabeth, who gets a free gift account for her lucky timing.

The LibraryThing Authors program, which we launched at the end of May, highlights authors who are also members of LibraryThing. The idea is that readers would love to see what their favorite author has in his or her own personal library.

Authors catalog their books (they have to enter at least 50) and then are given a special shiny yellow button, linking their personal profile with their author page. It gives readers a window into authors’ tastes, and authors a great new way to connect with their readers.

We’ve gotten a very positive response, and our list includes Rosina Lippi / greenery (who also writes under Sara Donati), Lisa Carey / axel, David Louis Edelman / DavidLouisEdelman, and many more.

Know anyone else who should be a LT Author? Send them my way! Tell your favorite author, your friends, your publishers, your pets…

*Don’t worry, when we hit 99 authors, I did start singing “take one down, pass it around…”

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Thursday, July 27th, 2006

Groups update / 23% librarians

Update: The number of users in groups has almost doubled, but the Librarians who LibraryThing is standing firm at 22%. This is looking more and more like the true percentage of users who are librarians. I find this stunningly cool. Oh, PS: important new message display features on the way.

After forty-eight hours, we’re up to 270 groups.

714 people have joined at least one group. Even niches like Medieval Europe (18 members) and and Baseball (5 members) are reaching critical mass. Librarians who LibraryThing is the largest, with 169 members. This suggest that of LibraryThing users—or anyway it’s most active users—23% are librarianstake that, MySpace! 169 librarians can’t be wrong!!*

With that fact in mind, we need to reiterate that LibraryThing isn’t morphing into some horrible commercial or hook-up site. The amazing success of groups is testimony to a pent-up desire to relate around and discuss books on LibraryThing.** Reviews and profile comments weren’t enough—not enough by far. The forums we’re working on will extend that. But we haven’t forgotten the cataloging side, and will continue to improve our data and data models, expand our library horizons, and provide richer information for your catalogs.

Users have written 1,222 messages, which means Robyn and I need to release the “real” forum functionality soon! While we work on the cake, I added some frosting, RSS feeds.

* According to the ALA, there are 136,738 librarians in the United States alone. So, if 23% of LibraryThing’s 61,000 users are librarians, only 10% of librarians are LibraryThinging. In fact, it’s probably much less than that, as the librarians tend to stay and participate at higher levels.
** Not to mention the various families and suchnot putting their individual collection up mostly for searching purposes.

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Wednesday, July 26th, 2006

Groups, part deux

It’s now been just over 24 hours since we released the Groups feature, and we’re astounded at how it’s taken off. As Kevin Costner was once told, “If you build it, they will come.”*

We have 170** groups already, with a wild range of topics from Book Arts to Romance, from Austen to Byatt to Crusie. Librarians who LibraryThing took an early lead, and now has a whopping 82 members. I love it.

And there are 599 messages*** in the system – you apparently couldn’t wait to talk to each other (most active message board? Tea!). It’s a push for us (*cough*Tim*cough*) to finish up the more complex forum system (which will function on it’s own, but also be integrated into the Groups). I’ll let Tim eat dinner first, but then, he’s back to work.

Keep posting your comments on the GoogleGroup – as always, it’s a work in progress, so give us feedback.

(clearly, I’m picking up Tim’s blog footnotes tendency)
*I know that’s not quite the quote, but everyone gets the Field of Dreams reference, right? Well, now that I gave it to you…
**172 groups now, in the time it took me to write this
***and 612 messages!

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Tuesday, July 25th, 2006

LibraryThing adds “Groups”

Today we’re going public with a new Groups feature, a major new “social” feature. Groups were developed by Robyn, LibraryThing’s newest employee (and the last one hiding in the shadows, we promise). Check out the Groups homepage, all groups, or groups like Mainers and Knitters.

You can do three main things with groups:

  • Search all members’ libraries at once. LibraryThing links accounts into a “virtual” combined library.
  • Talk among the group. Groups come with a message board which demos LibraryThing’s new forum. The message boards demo the new forum features, including “touchstones.” Group forums will become “threaded” (more complex) later, if groups choose.
  • Check out the Group Zeitgeist. Spot shared books, track recently-added books, etc.

We see groups being used by:

  • Real-world clubs. Groups can unite all the collections of a real-world organization, like a book group, a college club, a branch of the SCA, a church—heck, a bowling league—search for books, arrange swaps, etc. You can even post meeting times, etc.
  • Virtual clubs. LibraryThing members have already set up groups for Knitters*, British and Irish Crime Fiction, Ancient History enthusiasts, Pagans, and many others.
  • Friends and lovers. You can set up a group for your friends, significant others and family members. You can make a group private and invitation-only.

Introducing Robyn. Groups were a grou—I mean team—effort, but Robyn took the lead developing the feature and coding it. Here’s a thumbnail bio:

Robyn Overstreet (LT: robynover) is a web developer and new media artist. Before joining LibraryThing, she worked as a web developer for the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations. She is a recent graduate of NYU’s Masters Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP)**, where she studied social software, as well as programming, design, and electronics. With a background in creative writing, Robyn’s interests include exploring the connections between formal poetry and computer programming languages. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Robyn’s email is RobynLibraryThing.com. She will also be posting on the Google Group and on the comments here. As usual, your comments are much appreciated. We don’t produce “finished” stuff and then ask you to like it or lump it. We produce something minimal and then see where you want us to take it.***

*The LiveJournal Knitters community were kind enough to start a day early, and provided valuable feedback.
**Clay Shirky, woo-hoo!
***For example, we’re not getting rid of the tags tab, apparently. It would have caused a revolution. I’m not even gonna talk about the 50-covers thing!

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