Archive for the ‘series’ Category

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020

Series Gets a Revamp

series_screenshot

Short Version

Today we roll out a new version of “Series” and “Publisher Series.” Here are some pages to check out:

We’re going to be discussing New Series starting from this Talk post.

The rest of this blog post explains the whys and wherefores in great detail.

“Old” Series

Before today, series were based on the Common Knowledge system. Common Knowledge is a simple “fielded wiki,” a system for keeping and tracking simple values.(1) To add a series to a work, you’d go to the common area of a work page and fill it out as follows:

bryson

It got complex quickly. Here’s one Star Wars book, with stuff inside parentheses for sorting and labeling.

starwars

Needless to say, an entry like “Star Wars (0.0112994350|88.5-22 BBY)” was inaccessible to many. Nor could works be added to a series on the actual series page. Series didn’t extend well to other languages—unless the names coincided, there was endless duplication of effort. A lack of any sort of grouping or subseries gummed up major series with edge-cases, like the re-segmentation of the Lord of the Rings applicable to only some Japanese editions, and made it tricky for users to look at a series and figure out what to read. And while some information came to adhere to series, the whole system was jerry-rigged. Finally, adding NEW features was truly impossible!

It is testimony to the passion and diligence of LibraryThing members over the last 13 years that they have added some 125,000 “regular” series and 30,000 “publisher” series!

“New Series”

New series starts with a more sophisticated data structure and user interface. Series exist as their own, complex entity, like works and authors are, not as series of Common Knowledge “strings.” This means:

  • Adding to series can be done on either work pages or series pages. (On work pages, series have been moved to the (renamed) “Series and work relationships” section.)
  • Sorting works within series is accomplished by dragging and dropping, or by giving the series a default sort, such as by publication or title.
  • Adding labels like “book one” can be done directly, not as part of a larger formula.

Series can now include “groups.” Every series has a “core” grouping, but can also include sections for omnibus editions, short stories, or anything else that—while useful—might be worthwhile to separate out. You can see this on the Lord of the Rings page.

The more sophisticated structure allows for other innovations:

  • A single series can serve across all of LibraryThing’s languages, with different names in different languages.(2)
  • Series can be combined and, in combining, the editor can choose which elements to bring over from one series to another.
  • Series can now be “related” to each other, much as works can be related to works. For example, the Harry Potter Movies can be listed as an adaptation of the famous novels.
  • Every series-related action is separately tracked for examination by members and staff—much like Common Knowledge but with all the extra detail available once single strings were abandoned.

“New Series” has also advanced LibraryThing’s “LT2″ redesign project. In making the new pages, Chris Holland essentially worked out LT2 code and concepts, and applied them to a single page on “LT1.” He has learned a lot about how to recast LibraryThing pages without breaking everything.

Finally, series can now be touchstoned, just like authors and works! As works use single brackets, like [War and Peace], and authors use double-brackets, like [[J. K. Rowling]], series use three brackets like [[[Twilight Saga]]].

Future Plans

The near future will see:

  • Members able to follow a series, and see and receive updates when new books are released in that series.
  • “Publisher series” transformed by allowing these work-based lists to be narrowed down to the publishers and editions that pertain to them.

Can You Help?

Series needs your help! Old data needs cleaning up, and all sorts of new data needs adding.

  • We need your help finding bugs and improving existing features so they are maximally intuitive and useful.
  • We need help establishing best practices and norms for the new possibilities. For example, now that we have true series “relationships,” I favor removing adaptations from series and making them and their own series.
  • The biggest data problem is a surfeit of non-English variants. The Common Knowledge structure hid them, but members using LibraryThings other language sites, like LibraryThing.fr (French) and cat.LibraryThing.com (Catalan), created an enormous number of series too—most of them the same as the English series. They need to be combined. For example, before I combined them, the Twilight Saga also existed as “Houkutus” (Finnish), “Saga ‘Zmierzch'” (Polish), and “Crepúsculo” (Spanish).
  • The second biggest task is reviewing the “groups” within series. Omnibus editions and selections have been automatically assigned to a separate group with 95% accuracy, but other groupings have not been attempted.
  • There is a “Needs Help” / “Looks Good” control within the Edit dropdown menu. You can use this to flag the series as needing help or give approval that the series is currently in good shape.

Check It Out

Here are some links to check out!

Here are some links of interest to people who want to dig deeper:


Footnotes:

1. For more on Common Knowledge see our 2007 blog post.

2. Separate series should only be maintained if there is a difference between the series so great that combining them would mislead. This is one of those things we’ll have to hash out as a community.

Labels: common knowledge, new features, series

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Introducing the Authors and Series views in Your books

Among the many things LibraryThing is—book recommendations, social networking and so forth—LibraryThing started out and and is a kick-ass tool for organizing your books. But we’re not resting on our laurels. There are things we can improve, and things we can add. This is one. Another one goes to the Beta group today.

This weekend I added a feature to see authors and series within the “Your library” tab, and as “first class things,” like books and tags, not just a field within books.

Access to the Authors and Series view can be found to the right of the Tags view. Click the little divot to show other views. (Yes, others are planned.)

Switching to Authors or Series view changes the bar:


Below that, the page changes to a list authors or series, with links to see them in your catalog or go to their stand-alone author or series pages.

The feature was introduced incrementally. There’s a Talk conversation that tracks that. Now that the feature is largely working and possibly complete, I’ve started another Talk conversation. Come let us me what you think.

Labels: authors, new feature, new features, series

Monday, August 11th, 2008

Series, Awards, Characters, Places

Some time ago we added pages for series. We’ve now added pages for three other Common Knowledge fields: Awards, Important Places and People/Characters.

All four page types, together with the author pages, now also sport extensive cross-linking, so you can get from Stephen King to the Bram Stoker Awards to Hannibal Lecter to the Marquis de Sade to Cornwall to Guenevere. (Bonus points if you can get back!)

Here are some observations on the various page types:

Awards. Awards are important to a lot of readers. Personally I have no use for them, but they’re fun to browse through. And there are so many! Sure, we’ve all heard of the British Book Awards or the Hugo. But how about the Compton Crook Award, Macavity Award or Printz Award?

Places. Some of the most interesting places are the small ones. Paris is already too much, and even Philadelphia. But Antarctica is small enough to take in, and large enough to be interesting. So too Martha’s Vineyard and Petra, Jordan (one part Left Behind, one part Indiana Jones and another academic).

But we need more for Faerie, Hell and particularly Moldova. As for Nuevo Rico, where are the Nuevo Ricans!

Speaking of odd, The Playboy Mansion is currently occupied by Shel Silverstein. What?

Series. Series pages aren’t new. But I might as well drop that series are the most complete, best Common Knowledge data. It’s not just Harry Potter, Star Wars or His Dark Materials, but also New American Nation, Time-Life: Mysteries of the Unknown and Hellenistic Culture and Society.

People/Characters. A lot of fun can be had here, particularly with characters that cross between fiction and non-fiction, like Lincoln and Alexander the Great and Pope Alexander VI. You will, of course, find familiar faces like Jack Aubrey, Gandalf and Sherlock Holmes.

Fun can be had with minor characters. Take Reepicheep from the Chronicles of Narnia. Can you remember which books he appears in? (It’s Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Last Battle; if you found that easy, how about Jill Pole?)

The “related” boxes can show up scarce data. For example, right now God is showing up related to 69 individuals. Jesus is number one, but he’s followed by Bernice Summerfield, apparently a character in Doctor Who. (Incidentally, Jesus is somewhat split between Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus Christ, etc.)

Post here or discuss on Talk.

Tim is gone! Incidentally, I am now on an official “code holiday.” I have at least three days without any obligations whatsoever, and I intend to stay in, order pizza, stop answering the door, stop answering the phone, stop writing on Talk, and even—gasp!—stop answering email. I may even put one of those “vacation auto-reply” messages up. After three days, I hope I have something.

Labels: awards, common knowledge, new features, series

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Series authors and work info in your catalog

I’ve added two small-ish features that point the way to other features:

Series Authors: Series pages now show all series authors, with photos if there are any. (The example below is from Star Wars.) Mouse-over a picture to get the name. In general, I want to move in the direction of graphical representations like this. I dislike profile pictures, but this is something different. It’s attractive, I think, and encourages people to add author photos.

Work info in you catalog: You can add the field “Work: Title and author” to your catalog display. In the example below you can see I have two copies of the work, the Histories and that my Penguin edition three Aeschyls play is otherwise known as the Oresteia. Incidentally, it cannot current sort by work title. If you sort by the “shared” column, however, it sorts by shared-copies which basically “groups” by work anyway.

Labels: new feature, new features, series, work pages

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

Series improvements

Chris and I have added two small but important features to LibraryThing’s amazing member-driven “series” feature (first blogged here).

First, authors now show series as well as works:

Second, I’ve added a page laying out all the series and series-books in your library. You can find it from your Profile tab under “statistics.” Here’s one from a user with many series, oakesspalding.

Oh, I forgot. FriendFeed, a fast-rising social-network aggregator I haven’t played with, added LibraryThing support a couple days ago.

Labels: new feature, new features, series

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

New feature: “Series”

Chris and I have added “series” to our Common Knowledge feature, creating a way to deal with book series like the Chronicles of Narnia, The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, Will and Ariel Durant’s The Story of Civilization or the Bluffer’s Guides.

We’ve started off simple:

  • A page for every series, with covers and titles.
  • A simple method of ordering works within a series.
  • A series-level tag cloud.
  • A mechanism for showing series overlap, as between the Chronicles of Narnia in publication and chronological order.

There’s a lot more we could potentially do. But this is just the sort of feature that should develop over time, with lots of input from users. Each series page has a short section on some of the important issues, and I’ve set up a Talk post for discussion.

I’ve also added fields for a work’s “Canonical Title” and “Canonical Author.” As of now, the values of these fields do not affect work or author titles. They will soon.

Labels: common knowledge, new feature, new features, series