Monday, June 5th, 2006

Library Mashup Competition

The library vendor Talis just announced a library mashup competition.

It’s a pretty wide-open thing. You can use any source you want–Google, Amazon, OCLC, Z39.50*–and do anything you want, so long as it’s nifty. You don’t even need to work in a library (although the necessity of saying this is troubling!). About the only hard rule, is that you need to release it under some sort of copyleft license**. The winner gets £1,000, the runner-up £500. The contest ends August 18.

Best of all, I’m going to be one of the judges. This has a down side—I can’t enter myself. But it will be very fun. The other judges are a pretty august group.

Although I can’t enter it, I WILL do some mashups. More importantly, I’m going to start releasing APIs that others can use to build their mashups. As many of you know, I’m constrained by the Amazon API. Offering an API to the full LibraryThing data set would inevitably involve releasing Amazon API data. So I’m going to have to stick to ISBNs, LibraryThing codes (like the “work” number) and user-generated data, like tags and such. That shouldn’t be a problem, since user data is what LibraryThing is all about.

Talis has set up a discussion area for the contest itself, another for ideas and another for entries. But feel free to talk over here too, particularly as regards what data would be fun to extract from LibraryThing.

*I pushed for them to include that in the suggested materials list. Z39.50 is a TREMENDOUS resource, almost completely ignored because it’s a little wiggly to work with.
**The small print says “winning entrants will need to satisfy the judges as to the spirit and rationale behind their licensing decisions, prior to prize money being made available.” As someone who recently signed a financing deal, I’m getting very wary of small print***. I can tell you that I’m going to push hard to allow any copyleft license to apply.
***Abe managed to slip in an “Andorra” clause, a yearly tribute of wine, four hams and forty loaves of bread. That’s okay, my employment agreement mandates a water cooler filled with Guiness, in invisible ink on the back.

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