Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

SocialCatalogers: For people who make social cataloging applications

Introducing SocialCatalogers, a Ning-based social network for people who make social cataloging sites. No, this is not a joke. It’s funny, but it’s not a joke.

If you make social cataloging sites, or have a deep interest in them, join up here: http://socialcatalogers.ning.com.

Social cataloging has exploded. Today LibraryThing’s list of competitors—very broadly defined—hit forty.* That’s not counting the dozens or even hundreds of sites in other niches—movies, games, comics, programs, wine, beer, recipes. It’s not counting the swap sites, which catalog as a means to something else. Or the list sites like 43Things and Wordie, which catalog intangibles.** Or projects like John Blyber’s “Social OPAC,” which bolts social cataloging onto “unsocial cataloging” (a service LibraryThing will offering soon too).

For a while the social cataloging social network was me. I started LibraryThing by trying to get Bibliophil to join forces with me—they would provide the social, I’d provide the cataloging. No dice. Since then I’ve emailed or met with half the social cataloging developers out there, looking for synergies or just to talk shop. Sometimes something came out of it; LibraryThing has “also on” integration with a few, like Cork’d, “LibraryThing for wine.” (Some day, if we have enough shared users, LibraryThing can recommend books based on the wines you drink!) There should be more of that.

The time has come for a socal cataloging watering hole. We’re an industry now, or a dwarf industry anyway. Some of us compete, but that doesn’t prevent automakers from getting together. We too can conspire to fix prices! Seriously, we ought to have some things to talk about. At the very least we can keep an eye on the competition.

I made the social network on Ning, which relaunched today. Ning*** is a “social network maker,” started and mostly funded by Mark Andreeson. I wasn’t that impressed with it, until the relaunch. It’s really something now. I was able to create a basic social network in about ten minutes. It’s not what I would have designed, but I would have taken a month to do it, at least. 60% in ten minutes beats 100% in a month every time.

Also, by getting in early, SocialCatalogers hopes to become the dominant social network for people who make social cataloging applications. Take that CatalogingSocial.com, SocietyofSocialCatalogers.com, SocialCatalogingThing.com, ThingSocialCatalogers.com, SocialCatalogersList.com, SocialCatalogersster.com, Joptwix, Flipto, Gropo and Fhtagn****.

*I found StashMatic, which is similar to Squirl and iTaggit. (Squirl is my pick, and I’m not just saying that because half the development team now works for LibraryThing.) And I found JunkLog, which brings minimalism in social cataloging to a new level. That’s not really a knock. It’s kind of cool to strip it down. I can’t tell if it’s developing or defunct.
**Early on in LibraryThing I was at my parents house for the weekend, and my dad came into my room at 5am, fresh from bed. He had an idea he was dying to tell me about. He had an idea—LibraryThing, but for people! Instead of cataloging your books, you list your friends. I let him down easy. (Still, a more catalogy social network would be an interesting project.)
***Mostly because it got so much press but has LibraryThing-level traffic. Then again, I’m Dan Quayle to Andreeson’s John Kennedy. I expect the relaunch to kick Ning into the clouds.
****As every lover of H. P. Lovecraft knows, Fhtagn comes from Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn! (“In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu lies dreaming”). Fhtagn.com, .net., .org., .de and .edu are taken. However, phngluimglwnafhcthulhurlyehwgahnaglfhtagn.com is still available, even if phngluimglwnafhcthulhurlyehwgahnaglfhtagn.net is not.

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