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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