Archive for May, 2007

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

1pm Abby talking at BEA / NYC Meetup

If you’re at BEA this week—and what book-industry type is not?*—come check out Abby, LibraryThing’s first hire and Head Librarian give a short talk on Thursday at 1pm.

Also, she’s organizing a get-together in NY. Friday night at 6:30, anyone and everyone—BEAers or not—is invited to meet up at The Half King Bar & Restaurant (505 W 23rd Street).**

Abby’s speaking alongside representatives from HarperCollins, Grand Central Publishing, MySpace and Gather. The topic is “Using Social Networking to Build Author Brands.”

She’s going to outline what LibraryThing is all about, and how authors and publishers are using it. But LibraryThing is something different—more? less?—than “social networking” and “author brands” is one of those bloodless, push-push, container-shipping phrases that obscure what’s really going on. Readers don’t connect with “author brands” anymore than passionate lovers connect with “lover brands.” Social networking–or social cataloging–is about real connections. Brands are to real connections what television is to telephone.

Anyway, quibble aside, I’m sure it’ll be a great panel.

*That would be me. I’m on a 1×3-mile island off of Ireland. Really.
**The Half King is apparently a very literary place—they have readings every Monday night, and it’s co-owned by Sebastian Junger. If his place is full of LibraryThing-ers, surely he’ll become a LibraryThing author.

Labels: Uncategorized

Monday, May 28th, 2007

Bad news from Bookland

Two depressing stories:

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Saturday, May 26th, 2007

Excellent: David Weinberger at Google

David Weinberger went to Google and did his Everything is Miscellaneous talk. It’s now posted. Unlike all the other talks I’ve seen—David has a dozen or so here and there on the web—they preserved the David’s inimitable, often hysterical, “slides.”

Recommended—no essential—watching for librarians, information architects and so forth.

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Friday, May 25th, 2007

LibraryThing bests Vanatu

I get a lot of LinkedIn requests. Today’s came with a factoid:

Fact: More people have joined LinkedIn than live in Sweden.

According to this website, that means LinkedIn has more than 9,001,800 members. Which leads me to the following LibraryThing factoids:

Fact: More people have joined LibraryThing than live in Vanuatu.

Vanatu, baby, Vanatu. Not some teeny-weeny place like Tonga, Andorra or Liechtenstein. Vanatu!

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Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

Hippo Birdie Two Ewes, Linnaeus

It’s his 300th birthday.

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Saturday, May 19th, 2007

David Weinberger at Yahoo

I’ve got some unfinished David Weinberger business, including a review and a pile of free copies of Everything is Miscellaneous to give out. (I’m thinking some kind of contest, like photos of sock drawers, miscellaneous piles, or interesting ways to sort things.) Until I have a spare minute for that, here’s a great video he just did at Yahoo.

PS: I would like to lodge an official complaint against Yahoo. I was watching it on Yahoo Video itself, and half-way through. The page invited me to rate the video and I clicked it. Well, that was dumb! It ended the page and called up a new one, asking me to sign in. Well, that’s the last time I rate a video on Yahoo!

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Saturday, May 19th, 2007

Freeze—I’m a change agent

I had the honor of key-noting at the Southern Maine Library District‘s Spring Council meeting. Until this my contact with local librarians had been pretty meagre, so it was great to meet so many, and be received so warmly.

I’m particularly keen to do something with one of the librarians I met from Maine’s island communities. It would be great to get the small island library in, and then all the private books, so residents could search for them. Apparently island librarians are already doing some of this informally, in their heads.

I’ve been interested in “small scale” social software ever since I read Clay Shirky’s Situated Software. Small-scale social software can dodge some of the problems of large-scale varieties. So, for example, sharing books between LibraryThing members would require a complex “reputation” system to deal with bad apples. On an island with 200 people you don’t need that.

For keynoting I received a Maine Libraries mug—nice, but too slight for my super-sized coffee addiction—some chocolates—inhaled!—and the pin to the right, “Change Agent” on a sheriff’s badget.

No doubt it was either that or a round button, and the sheriff’s badge was cooler. But there’s something richly ironic in the pairing of “change agent” and a sheriff’s badge. Does change come from the sheriffs? Maybe it’s a deputy badge, or whatever you give someone in a posse.

I keep hearing variations on: “I hate my job. I have no power. But I’m going to stick it out. My supervisor is going to retire some day.”

Man, that’s gotta suck. Startups have their downs too, but that’s a kind of pain I hope to never feel again. Maybe the library world needs more villains and vigilantes. Damn the law, and string up that OPAC!

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Friday, May 18th, 2007

Why I joined OCLC …

… is the title of a short Library Journal piece by Roy Tennant. In it, Roy, a popular and much respected library speaker and author explains his decision to leave the California Digital Library and take a job at OCLC.

Roy’s decision drew some flack among anti-OCLC librarians and related pundits who view OCLC as—in Steve Oberg’s phrase—the “Microsoft of the library world.”

I’m in that camp, as Roy knows well. After we presented in the same session at Computers in Libraries Roy and I went out to dinner, with another prominent librarian. I subjected them both to a long, Greek-food-fueled rant about open data and the problems with OCLC and its approach to the web. I had my shot. A day or two later, he announced he was moving to OCLC. Apparently I didn’t convince him! :)

OCLC needs people like Roy—passionate librarians with a vision for the future. If OCLC is to change, people like Roy are going to be the ones to do it. I have great hopes for him there.

But they’re not going to do it alone. People on the outside are going to change OCLC too. They’re going to keep the pressure on. I applaud that Roy took the time to explain his move, and his vision for OCLC and the future of libraries. He was eloquent and persuasive. But I’m also glad he felt he had to.

Labels: oclc, roy tennant

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

LibraryThing for Libraries gets MUCH faster

The Tag Browser in FAAAAST!

The top complaint about the LibraryThing for Libraries was the speed of the tag browser. We revisited it today, and made it MUCH faster. It’s positively zippy!

It proved to me, yet again, that sometimes your seemingly perfect MySQL query—JOINS across five tables on primary keys and EXPLAINs like a dream—can be broken into two queries for an order-of-magnitude speed increase. If I were smarter, I’d understand this.

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