Monday, July 17, 2006

Library 2.0 podcast / Too tasteless for Talis

Talis hosted its first in a new series of bi-weekly "Library 2.0 Gang" podcasts, this one on "mashups." You can hear it here.

I was in on the call, as were leading lights of the Lib2.0 demi-monde. It's hosted by Talis' Paul Miller. This week also included Richard Wallis, who made LibraryThingThing. Rather than list the rest—with inevitable perils of description and order—I'll just mention those I know somewhat, namely John "AADL Dynamo" Blyberg and Ed "Super Patron" Vielmetti. I don't know Jenny "Shifted Librarian" Levine, but I read her blog. Casey Bisson will be in on future podcasts; I guess this week he had Paris Hilton on the brain.

"Library mashups" were the topic, with a nod to Talis' Mashing up the Library competition. We ended by talking about our "dream" mashup. John* wants a Netflix for libraries. Ed wants something like Coverflow for books. Richard Wallis wants a sort of "browser book vulture," watching what you browse and helping you find related books.

I argued that the first step was getting libraries to provide more mashable data, and the second would happen when non-library people got involved. After all, the cartographers didn't give Google Maps lift-off, so why should the librarians be the ones working on library mashups? Pushing that a bit I said:
"I want to see a mashup that no one on this panel approves of. That's when we know that library mashups have succeeded, when everyone thinks it's in bad taste."
I'm actually semi-serious here. Unexpected, "uncalled for" mashups have often been the most interesting—think Google Maps and sex offenders or the High-Yield Detonation Effects Simulator (Google Maps and blast radiuses). Googleing "tasteless mashups" I get the cartoony San Francisco Earthquake mashup. And the issue gets at library data vs. patron privacy, IMHO the most important barrier to Web 2.0 in the library, and a good topic for a future podcast.

Let's open this up to comments, shall we? Talis is offering £1,000 for their competition. I can't offer as much for my Too-Tasteless-for-Talis Competition. How about eternal ignominy? Remember, you can post anonymously!

*Earlier, John** suggested library data on iPods. Andy Latham, at Talis, took up the topic on Panlibus. I think he missed the point in talking about text-to-audio. You can get textual information on iPods very easily. I'm not sure how useful a "This Week in your Overdue Books" would be.
**Another asterisk on John Blyberg (why isn't he working for LibraryThing?). I also plugged his Virtual Card Catalog. Doing so got me jazzed up about it again. I think LibraryThing's going to steal it—it's open source after all. Talk to me about that too, if you want.


Blogger Steve said...

As a librarian and a sometime member of the "Lib2.0 demi-monde" (what a great phrase!), here is a "tasteless" one for you that I certainly wouldn't approve of:

Books most worth stealing from the library. Take price data from the college bookstore or another textbook supplier, show the assigned books for the current term in reverse order of price and mash up vs. the college library catalog. Or, for more theft opportunities, vs. Open WorldCat (no reason not to steal from another nearby library, right?).

I don't have to actually code it, do I?

7/17/2006 4:46 PM  
Anonymous Paul Miller said...

Ooh... Privacy. and related links from Walt Crawford and others. Definitely a good future topic. I think 'tagging' is probably up next, though...

And on Andy's mashup - it's certainly a slant on John's point, and one that there could be value in for certain types of user; those who sync their iPod in the morning to get that day's news shows, etc, may also find a use for being reminded in the same way that their books are due back? Not the one-size-fits-all solution, but certainly a solution for certain types of person.

As mentioned at the end of Andy's post, the same technique could be used to deliver audible messages via other channels than the RSS/podcast-gobbling mp3 player.

7/17/2006 5:20 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

Steve: Oh, GOOD one. Surely it would know whether a book was in a closed area. Perhaps you could use the shelving to calculate the optimum path through the library if you wanted to steal one armload of books and leave in less than ten minutes.

Positive spin: A friend of a friend was Harvard's "most rapacious thief" ( Actualy had dinner with the guy, who seemed terribly nice. He was a actually a particulary bad egg in so far as he didn't merely STEAL books, but razored out prints. (Stolen books at least go somewhere. Destroyed books are lost forever.) Anyway, he was caught when a used-book dealer in Spain passed his eyes between two pieces of paper, a request from Harvard for books--Harvard wasn't advertising the theft or asking dealing to be on the lookout--and a list of books available from a fellow in Cambridge, MA. Perfect match. The court ordered him to pay $600k. Wow.

Anyway, my mashup is to mashup recently-missing library books with items available on Abe and Alibris. Do it often and I'm betting you'd catch someone.

7/17/2006 8:57 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

Paul. I'm excited about tagging. Maybe I shouldn't be on for that one, as it touches LT so much.

Sorry to slag on Andy--I didn't mean to, but you know how tone is on the web. I agree there are things you could do with voice.

7/17/2006 8:59 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

Re: snideness. I think we need a Google Mashup between blast radiuses and discussions of library privacy.

7/18/2006 1:42 AM  
Anonymous Paul Miller said...

Blast radiuses and discussions of library privacy? Difficult, as half of those engaging in the discussion wouldn't let you have any coordinates... ;-)

7/18/2006 5:34 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

Here is another one I thoroughly disapprove of: (a domain which seems to be available, BTW).

Allow the user to select a custom list of books that only a pervert would read (you know: Henry Miller, James Joyce, Heather Has Two Mommies, etc.).

The user chooses from a list of library systems from which to retrieve circulation data on those books.

Get population information on the communities served by those library systems.

Figure out aggregate circulation per capita for a "pervert index."

Bonus points if your mashup can differentiate which branch library circulated the book, so you can pinpoint the perversity quotient of each neighborhood.

Mash up that info with voting records, to show how perversion correlates with voting patterns.

Also: get price information for the naughty books, multiply by number of copies in the system for a "your tax dollars supporting perverts" list.

7/18/2006 5:37 PM  
Blogger Dystopos said...

I was intrigued by the simple obviousness of "netflix for libraries" and then I started thinking about bookcrossing and wondered why we have to mail everything back to netflix before it goes to the next user. What if when your DVD (or book) arrived in your mailbox it had a pre-printed mailing label for the next recipient who had it queued up?

Yes, this would put you somewhat at the mercy of your media being assigned to a slow user, but it would open up the possibility of creating social links (put post-it notes on the best pages before mailing, etc)

Maybe the risks outweight the benefits, but it's interesting to ponder a library without shelves, where everything is always either being read or on the move.

7/19/2006 4:14 PM  
Blogger rakerman said...

I like the idea of the library on the move - much like the peer to peer library.

I also liked the book geocoding ideas mentioned in the podcast.

Tasteless mashups? Hmm, library locations + legal red light districts + crime stats on prostitution locations = BookHooker?

7/20/2006 3:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Run catalog book titles through a porno file title generator.

Framed in terms of the old Letterman show gag, "The book catalog from the Times Square branch."

Macaulay's Good Lays of Ancient Rome.

7/29/2006 5:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How's this for tasteless: Tracking the spread of STDs by promiscuous individuals.

Input data on clubs and bars visited where the person either picked up, or was too drunk to remember.

You could mix data from Google Maps with local tourism and business directories. Could be integrated with an alert system to notify bar and club owners within a given radius of visited sites to post notices.

Uh, no, I don't need this service. ;-) On the other hand, given the public health applications of such a system, maybe it's not really tasteless.

8/02/2006 3:58 AM  
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