I’m not sure if folks have linked this around yet, but yesterday from del.icio.us/popular I noticed literature-map. This presents a not entirely functional nor data rich display of authors related to an entered search term. Why mention it then? Well, the display is pretty neat. The above is a screenshot of a search for ‘steinbeck.’ Authors nearby are allegedly likely to be enjoyed if Steinbeck is enjoyed. Proximity to the search term indicates a stronger correlation, and the entire process is (computer resource intensive and) fluid, reacting to mouse placement. Evidently this tool runs on some artificial intellegence. At any rate is it better than What Should I Read Next which told me to read David Baldacci and Philip K. Dick after I told it I just read The Grapes of Wrath.
This concept mapping reminds me of Aquabrowser, which I played around with at the Arlington PL’s catalog. It is also available at Queens Library NY and Lexington PL and I’m sure elsewhere.
Aquabrowser, in its nice little cluster, gives among other data, ‘spelling variations.’ My search suggested “steinback,” “stainbeck,” “steinbock,” and “stenbeck.” At first I thought these were perhaps misspellings of ‘steinbeck’ but they were rather other authors in their OPAC with similar names. Other data it provides is related items, your history of clicking, and translations of items.
Who is to say if interfaces like this are a fad or if they have lasting value? Not me. However, I think things like this might be a good way to add some dynamic, graphical content to OPACs. I’m all for innovation, don’t get me wrong, but two quick caveats: 1. Clearly there are some usability and accessibility issues with these snazzy displays. 2. I’d rather see OPACs not be broken and work well before bells and whistles get added.
Anywho, give these things a spin and let me know what you think.