LibrayThing makes subject indexing not suck

30. Juli 2007 um 02:19 Keine Kommentare

I just mentioned it in my previous post – LibraryThing released a new tagging feature called „Tagmash„. Here a quick review for those of you who don’t read German and because I am not the only one who is so excited about Tagmash:

From a library and information science point of view the feature is little more then saved searches for boolean retrieval in a collaborative subject indexing system. But this „little more“ makes the difference: It’s the interface, stupid! You can create elaborated queries with OR, AND, and NOT in library catalouges and information retrieval systems since decades but most users don’t even know about it – it’s just too complicated and last but not least: it’s not fun!

Tim knows how to make OPACs not suck. It’s refreshing to see the the inventions of information retrieval beeing reinvented implemented in a way that is usable for everyone. David Weinberger got the heard of it in a comment to his posting about Tagmash:

So it is really a matter of positioning and perception. The Google url for a search on france and wwii is:
LibraryThing’s url for the tagmash is,wwii So, it’s more human readable. More important, the tagmash page tries to assemble resources related the tagmash.

That’s the point: Assembling resources. A retrievel system where you have to type in a query in some special language to only get a list of hits (or a stupid „nothing found“ message) is just out of date. Other ways to present catalouge content in libraries are rare and experimental but they exist – we need more of them!

The query language (I suppose Tim would not call it such) of LibraryThing is going to evolve as well as the retrieval system, for instance to support weighted boolean retrieval, but the most important part will remain the user interface.

P.S: What I miss in LibraryThing tagging is RSS-Feeds for the books in Tagmashes (so you can create alerting services) and support of SKOS for the Semantic Web (which is not Tim’s job and will take some time).

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