what do i read next 2.0

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.

3 thoughts on “what do i read next 2.0”

  1. Interesting. Also reminds me of xrefer’s concept map (which doesn’t work particularly well, but has a nice interface).

    I wonder if Literature Map is using Nancy Pearl’s rules of readers’ advisory to come up with the recommendations?

  2. Gawd, those names jiggling around on literature-map are giving me a freakin’ headache! Plus, I don’t like it that, when you repeat a search, you’ll see the same names in different places on the map. The names I typed in did get some decent suggestions included in the results, though.

    It looks like they’re relying on the kindness of strangers for their author connections. There’s a form to contribute to the database at http://www.gnooks.com/trip.php. It would just take enough people to type in enough sets of dissimilar authors to make the whole thing fall apart. Not that I’m suggesting that anyone deliberately vandalize literature-map. But we do have job security to think about … ;-)

    When I run literature-map through loband, I still get results … in an inline list of indeterminate order. So it might not be totally inaccessible to screen readers.

    The Aquabrowser map looks sorta useful for subject searches; totally useless for finding readalikes.

    For another example of a graphical results map, see the Kartoo search engine.

    I agree that vendors ought give OPAC basics more priority over things like, say, developing content for a complete library website solution.

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