A conversation with Tim Spalding about LibraryThing

I had a great time talking about LibraryThing with Tim Spalding for this week’s ITConversations show. He says LibraryThing is a baroque application. I think of it as deep in the same ways that Flickr is: Many features, many modes of use, many constituencies. Although Tim is flagellating himself about the way we swam around in those depths, I enjoyed the conversation immensely. If you’re fascinated by the dynamics of social information management — whether or not you are a book-lover — I think you will too.

We wound up talking for almost two hours. I omitted the second hour not only for reasons of length, but also because it raised a question that neither of us felt we were able to address very well. As mentioned in comments here, though, it does warrant further consideration. A lot of folks, me included, feel that the inability to move identity and relationships across social networks is increasingly an impediment to joining them and participating in them.

But Tim rightly points out that friction has value. Rites of initiation are costly for a reason. When you invest effort you create meaning. So here’s the question. How do we separate those aspects of social information management that should be portable and frictionless from those that should be unique and special?

One Comment

  1. Librarything does a marvelous job of mining the different connections on the Internet relating to books. It highlights the value and opportunity (or read that frustration) of the data represented within all the applications. From text messages like this one and the one below left on librarything.com to the lists of stuff that serve as profiles only the surface has been scratched.

    “I subscribe to the RSS feed of you blog as jmyates. This is an exploration based on your librarything items. There are so many opportunities that it is hard to pick an entry point. The first is do you ever look here for messages? Or should I go to Facebook, linkedin, your blog or too many other places to mention? Think on social networking, data creation against a fabric of centralization and standardization. It is a dizzy experience.”

    For me this highlights the value and the curse of the information age. It is the crux of the focus of every application. There is so much to explore and accomplish. It is hard to conceive of any subject that is not touched by the core of your simple discussion here. You hide its simplicity and complexity with the word ‘deep’ above.
    Let the designing continue.

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