Re: Open Library Demo
- From: John Mark Ockerbloom <ockerblo@[redacted]>
- Subject: Re: Open Library Demo
- Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2007 13:53:25 -0400
Klaus Graf wrote:
> There is a now working demo of the OCA "Open Library"
This is indeed quite interesting! I note that the emphasis has shifted
from the original exhibit at www.openlibrary.org (still online).
That site stressed "a selective, collections-
oriented approach" that seemed to exclusively feature
free digital material. (That is still a primary focus of
the Open Content Alliance.)
The new Open Library demo has both a broader scope including both free
digital material and any other books it can include. It's largely focusing
on getting as much metadata as it can on every book it can:
"It would take catalog entries from every library and publisher and random
Internet user who is willing to donate them. It would link to places where each
book could be bought, borrowed, or downloaded. It would collect reviews and
references and discussions and every other piece of data about the book it
could get its hands on."
An ambitious project to be sure! Indeed, the site is now unreachable to me,
presumably due to server overload. But before it got mobbed, I had a little
look around, and their plans for metadata schemes sound interesting, allowing
both controlled, professionally maintained descriptions and more free-form
user contributions. (There's still some fleshing out that needs to happen;
for instance, right now it seems the only online books that can be linked
to are ones that come from OCA.) Moreover, it seems they plan to let
anyone else use their data freely, to build whatever applications and
collections they want on it.
That's one thing I find quite exciting about this. If the project produces
good data, comprehensively, and freely reusably, there could be all sorts
of useful things coming out of it.
On other lists, I've heard some misgivings about such a wide reach of the
project. "I need fewer books, with more reliable recommendations," one says.
"Time is the ultimate bottleneck," notes another. The thing is, *if*
you've got enough comprehensive data that's good enough to reuse (no mean feat,
but not impossible either) you *can* use it to create collections of
fewer books than what comes out of the firehose at the Open Library,
adapted to the needs and desires of particular readers and communities.
There are all kinds of ways this could be done, using techniques from
professional librarianship and automated data analysis and bottom-up
user communities. If all these techniques can work together on a growing
data set, you can create all kinds of useful collections.
Which reminds me of something I've been meaning to do for a while.
I hope to report back shortly--