Books, artifacts, cataloging, networks

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This is the talk I gave at the Microsoft Social Computing Symposium. I was nervous. People seemed to enjoy it. This is good.

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Books, artifacts, cataloging, networks

  1. 1. Hello.Friday, January 14, 2011Hello. I’m George Oates, Project Lead of the Open Library project, from the Internet Archive inSan Francisco. I come from the land of folksonomy and photographs, having worked at Flickrfrom it’s inception to December 2008. I am new to the world of librarianship.I’d like to talk briefly about artifacts that books produce, the library as a social object, andhow those two ideas could enrich library cataloging.
  2. 2. Friday, January 14, 2011The library world is not exactly a hotbed of innovation. Even though librarians are ofteninformation architecture experts, and have a deep, abiding interest in classification systems,and making books accessible, I think that in the age of the web, this access is hindered bythe idea that records for books have been organized into a sequence, often sorted by title orauthor name.Many of the computing tools and formats are based on these physical card catalogs, where arecord is slotted into a sequence. Not to say that there aren’t a ton of librarians thinking hardabout to connect books to each other, but in terms of cataloging, it’s often a brutallyreductive process, in the past even literally constrained by the size of the index card therecord was written on.I’ve been enjoying pressing on the challenge of transforming the library catalog into anetwork.
  3. 3. Friday, January 14, 2011It’s curious to me that the act of reading is most often solitary, but there’s an explosion ofsocial objects that spring from that. Quite apart from the content itself, books are covered inmarkers and artifacts that tell us about their social lives.Some rights reserved by pamhule
  4. 4. Friday, January 14, 2011What are the artifacts that our interactions with books produce?They produce meetings...“Our Elberon Bookclub read, "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao." A number of themembers didnt like it, but that wont stop them from trying again next month!”Some rights reserved by NJLA: New Jersey Library Association
  5. 5. Friday, January 14, 2011Bibliographic points of interestAll rights reserved by jelens (used with permission)
  6. 6. Friday, January 14, 2011The property mark of a convent in Barcelona.All rights reserved by jelens, used with permission
  7. 7. Friday, January 14, 2011http://www.forgottenbookmarks.com/2010/12/not-necessarily-in-that-order.html
  8. 8. Friday, January 14, 2011“What book clubs are reading in Seattle”Some rights reserved by brewbooks
  9. 9. Friday, January 14, 2011A library is created through use. Some rights reserved by Matt Hampel
  10. 10. Friday, January 14, 2011This is Isaac Newton’s OWN COPY of his book, Opticks. It has Newton’s own handwriting andannotations in the scan... SO COOL. It’s held at the Boston Public Library.
  11. 11. Friday, January 14, 2011Handwritten scribbles and scrawls; annotations; corrections
  12. 12. Friday, January 14, 2011Illuminated manuscripts - normally reserved for very special books, illuminated in gold. I liketo think of these book artifacts as a new sort of illumination.No known copyright restrictions [?]http://www.flickr.com/photos/nationallibrarynz_commons/5344535652/
  13. 13. Friday, January 14, 2011This is a book page on Google. You can see some computing power has been thrown at alarge body of text to extract common words, and passages that have been referencedelsewhere.
  14. 14. Friday, January 14, 2011This sort of processing is obviously useful for placing books into a network. Throwingnamed-entity extractors at a body of text can give us people or place names, citations andsuch.
  15. 15. Friday, January 14, 2011I’m conflicted. It feels a bit clinical... I find sentiment analysis sort of funny... I mean, whydon’t you just read the damn book already.(Henry) Gray’s Anatomy, 1901http://www.archive.org/stream/anatomydescripti00grayuoft
  16. 16. Friday, January 14, 2011But then of course, you can do cool stuff like this :)
  17. 17. Some books are only cursorily to be tasted of. THOMAS FULLER 1608-1661Friday, January 14, 2011http://www.archive.org/stream/bookloversenchir00irelrich#page/n6/mode/1upNamely first, voluminous books, the task of a mans life to read them over ; secondly,auxiliary books, only to be repaired to on occasions ; thirdly, such as are mere pieces offormality, so that if you look on them, youlook through them ; and he that peeps through the casement of the index, sees as much as ifhe were in the house. But the laziness of those cannot be excused who perfunctorily passover authors of consequence, and only trade in their tables and contents. These, like city-cheaters, having gotten the names of all country gentlemen, make silly people believe theyhave long lived in those places where they never were, and flourish with skill in those authorsthey never seriously studied.I see the irony of me using this quotation - but I have read that book, and it’s wonderful. Aseries of love letters from authors to books.The reason I bring this up now is that machine based treatments of literature are capable ofturning any book into one of these auxiliary books. Not to be consumed as a whole, but inpieces.
  18. 18. Friday, January 14, 2011Tree of Codes by Jonathan Safran Foer. A rewrite of The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz,that is poking at what’s possible with literature, and possible with paper. A reconstitution ofa previous story, with a beautiful, meaningful physical design.
  19. 19. Friday, January 14, 2011Along the lines of physical books as social objects, this is Mr. Thatcher Wine, a formerInternet entrepreneur who now creates custom book collections and decorative “booksolutions,”http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/06/garden/06books.html?scp=1&sq=book%20designer&st=cseFunny footnote: Correction: January 7, 2011An earlier version of this article misstated the number of books Mr. Wine wrapped for the spain the condo tower Icon Brickell in Miami.
  20. 20. Friday, January 14, 2011My mum volunteers every Tuesday at the Oxfam bookshop in Adelaide, South Australia. Imentioned to her that I would be talking to you today, and she mentioned that a chap hadcome into her bookstore asking to buy 2,000 books to furnish a new restaurant’s decor. (Shegave him the schlocky stuff that wasn’t moving.)All rights reserved by Matilda Diamant
  21. 21. Friday, January 14, 2011Old media is more generally a liability though, sadly.Even though following along the patterns of deaccession -- which are rarely public, by theway -- would be interesting, it’s a concern that lots of libraries are getting rid of physicalbooks where there’s a digital copy available. These seems dangerous - and actually, theInternet Archive is quietly building a physical archive to catch this so called waste for the longterm.No known copyright restrictions [?]
  22. 22. Friday, January 14, 2011A library is created through use. As a reader, your library is like an autobiography. Trackingchanges over time, subject matter, who you lent things to and when maps back against yourlife.Some rights reserved by ninahale
  23. 23. Friday, January 14, 2011Imagine if you could look back into the history of your personal library? Look at the shape ofthe collection.All rights reserved by jelens (used with permission)
  24. 24. Friday, January 14, 2011I’m in love with informal fuzzy arrangements of books.Library catalogs could be aware of many more things things like a book’s artifacts, itscirculation, how many people have read, borrowed or purchased the book, adjacent books,general arrangements, changes over time. And from as many source collections as possible.
  25. 25. Catalog as Landscape?Friday, January 14, 2011How do you see the shape of a catalog? How can you see its boundaries and edges? How canyou move through it differently than search and retrieve?Photo by me
  26. 26. Deconstruction Some rights reserved by tuppusFriday, January 14, 2011I came to Open Library with a good deal of skepticism about the library world. Watching orderemerge from total chaos in the uncontrolled classification system at work on Flickr, but, I wasintrigued to see if we could outline the catalog as a shape, so we pulled everything to bits tosee what we could find.
  27. 27. LEADER: 01378cam 2200373I 4500 001 ocmocm01143845 003 OCoLC 005 19951211171151.0 008 750117r19531945nyu 000 1 eng u 019    $a4338553 040    $cSLC$dOCL$dTXA$dSFR$dOCoLC 049    $aSFRA 092    $aF$bSaLinger 1953 100 1  $aSalinger, J. D.$q(Jerome David),$d1919- 245 14 $aThe catcher in the rye. 260    $a[New York] :$bNew American Library,$c[1953, c1951] 300    $a192 p.$c18 cm. 490 0  $aSignet book,$vD1667 500    $aReprint of the 1945 ed. published by Little, Brown, Boston. 590    $aBarbara Grier and Donna McBride collection. 650  0 $aTeenage boys$vFiction. 650  0 $aBrothers and sisters$vFiction. 650  0 $aPreparatory schools$vFiction. 650  4 $aAlienation in teenagers$vFiction. 650  4 $aTeenage boys$xInterpersonal relations$vFiction. 650  4 $aEmotionally disturbed teenage boys$vFiction. 690    $aBarbara Grier and Donna McBride collection. 655  4 $aQueer pulps. 907    $a.b15331775$b10-24-07$c07-20-03 998    $axsf$b07-01-03$cm$da$e-$feng$gnyu$h4$i1 935    $aADM-9576 907    $a.b15331775$b02-23-04$c07-20-03 998    $axsf$b07-01-03$cm$da$e-$feng$gnyu$h4$i1 945    $aF SaLinger 1953$g1$i31223037153153$lxsfgl$o-$p$0.00$q-$rc$so $t1$u0$v0$w0$x0$y.i25499191$z08-05-03Friday, January 14, 2011Here is a MARC record. Full of data!Let’s see what happens when you explode Library of Congress Subject Headings. This dataisn’t even in Open Library - we borrowed it from loc.gov then pulled out the dynamite...
  28. 28. LEADER: 01378cam 2200373I 4500 001 ocmocm01143845 003 OCoLC 005 19951211171151.0 008 750117r19531945nyu 000 1 eng u 019    $a4338553 040    $cSLC$dOCL$dTXA$dSFR$dOCoLC 049    $aSFRA 092    $aF$bSaLinger 1953 100 1  $aSalinger, J. D.$q(Jerome David),$d1919- 245 14 $aThe catcher in the rye. 260    $a[New York] :$bNew American Library,$c[1953, c1951] 300    $a192 p.$c18 cm. 490 0  $aSignet book,$vD1667 500    $aReprint of the 1945 ed. published by Little, Brown, Boston. 590    $aBarbara Grier and Donna McBride collection. 650  0 $aTeenage boys$vFiction. 650  0 $aBrothers and sisters$vFiction. 650  0 $aPreparatory schools$vFiction. 650  4 $aAlienation in teenagers$vFiction. 650  4 $aTeenage boys$xInterpersonal relations$vFiction. 650  4 $aEmotionally disturbed teenage boys$vFiction. 690    $aBarbara Grier and Donna McBride collection. 655  4 $aQueer pulps. 907    $a.b15331775$b10-24-07$c07-20-03 998    $axsf$b07-01-03$cm$da$e-$feng$gnyu$h4$i1 935    $aADM-9576 907    $a.b15331775$b02-23-04$c07-20-03 998    $axsf$b07-01-03$cm$da$e-$feng$gnyu$h4$i1 945    $aF SaLinger 1953$g1$i31223037153153$lxsfgl$o-$p$0.00$q-$rc$so $t1$u0$v0$w0$x0$y.i25499191$z08-05-03Friday, January 14, 2011650 field - subjects
  29. 29. 650  0 $aTeenage boys$vFiction. 650  0 $aBrothers and sisters$vFiction. 650  0 $aPreparatory schools$vFiction. 650  4 $aAlienation in teenagers$vFiction. 650  4 $aTeenage boys$xInterpersonal relations$vFiction. 650  4 $aEmotionally disturbed teenage boys$vFiction.Friday, January 14, 2011Zoom in
  30. 30. 650  0 $aTeenage boys$vFiction. 650  0 $aBrothers and sisters$vFiction. 650  0 $aPreparatory schools vFiction. 650  0 $aAlienation in teenagers vFiction. 650  0 $aTeenage boys$xInterpersonal relations vFiction. 650  0 $aEmotionally disturbed teenage boys vFiction.Friday, January 14, 2011Strip out the MaRC gumpf
  31. 31. Teenage boys, Fiction, Brothers and sisters, Preparatory schools, Alienation in teenagers, Interpersonal relations, Emotionally disturbed teenage boysFriday, January 14, 2011Remove dupes, make it a human readable list
  32. 32. Teenage boys, Fiction, Brothers and sisters, Preparatory schools, Alienation in teenagers, Interpersonal relations, Emotionally disturbed teenage boysFriday, January 14, 2011Then put a page behind all of them...
  33. 33. Friday, January 14, 2011Looking at the subject page, you can see the Works with the most editions in the top panel,with a handy indicator to tell you if you can read an electronic version....
  34. 34. By Casey CripeFriday, January 14, 2011Casey Cripe
  35. 35. Friday, January 14, 2011http://www.literature-map.com/aimee+bender.html“Gnod is my experiment in the field of artificial intelligence. Its a self-adapting system, livingon this server and talking to everyone who comes along. Gnods intention is to learn aboutthe outer world and to learn understanding its visitors. This enables gnod to share all itswisdom with you in an intuitive and efficient way. You might call it a search-engine to findthings you dont know about.”
  36. 36. Friday, January 14, 2011I wanted to end with some quick comments on social design in the context of a library. I sortof love the idea of Sssh as a design theme.Even though we’ve seen that there’s a ton of social artifacts and connections that emergefrom reading, and collections of books, I quite like the restriction of not leaping to 2.0 styletools in the design of Open Library.Some rights reserved by Enokson
  37. 37. Friday, January 14, 2011
  38. 38. Friday, January 14, 2011http://www.flickr.com/photos/bartificial/5027921214
  39. 39. Friday, January 14, 2011
  40. 40. Friday, January 14, 2011
  41. 41. Friday, January 14, 2011
  42. 42. Friday, January 14, 2011
  43. 43. Friday, January 14, 2011This is ImportBot. He gets new catalog records from the Library of Congress and puts theminto Open Library every Tuesday. We also import records from Amazon, and from the InternetArchive. ImportBot looks for recently scanned books, and creates new records (or mergesthem with existing ones) just a few minutes after the record is created on the InternetArchive.
  44. 44. Friday, January 14, 2011Just simple building blocks for interconnection at this stage. Simply writing identifiers fromother bookish systems out there on the web. One benefit of collecting these identifiers is thatit allows developers out there to investigate the open library in their own language, but usingtheir own IDs.
  45. 45. Friday, January 14, 2011It’s exciting -- at least, to me -- to imagine a turblent library catalog. This shift fromsequence to network, and the injection of different collection information and book artifactsis something easy for computers to process. The more connections, the better - because thatincreases our chance of finding things again.http://www.flickr.com/photos/rreis/4859722551/sizes/l/
  46. 46. The Library at Night by Alberto ManguelFriday, January 14, 2011I was very pleased to discover the writings of a chap called Alberto Manguel. His thinking onlibraries has been deeply influential. If you’re interested at all in books, libraries, or reading,read him.
  47. 47. George Oates glo@archive.org | slideshare.net/george08 | @openlibraryFriday, January 14, 2011

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