A year ago I blogged about federated bookshelves, in response to Tom Critchlow’s posting Library JSON, A Proposal for a Decentralized Goodreads.

As I reread both postings this morning as well as some of the links Tom points, specifically Phil Gyford’s posting as he starts from the reading experience, not from the tech, and Matt Webb’s for suggesting RSS/OPML, I jotted down a few additional notes.

  • Since the previous posting I stopped linking to Amazon and Goodreads, and having a way to point others to books and vice versa, for discovery is of more interest to me now
  • I envisage myself and others having multiple lists (by topic of interest, genre, language, year, author maybe)
  • I’d like to be able to point from one of my lists to another (from an author field in one list to an author centered list e.g.)
  • I care less about ‘factual’ reviews, more about reasons why people chose a book (‘the cover design jumped out at me in the store’ or ‘this book touches upon X connected to the topic Y that I’m currently exploring’, which goes back to my notions of social filtering
  • Similarly I don’t need images of book covers, which also potentially carry copyright issues, but links to author websites or their publisher would be useful, as is a link to a list sharer’s/reader’s blogpost
  • I’d like to be able to see/get/follow other people’s lists
  • I’d like sharing a list of other people’s lists I follow
  • I’d like to be able to adopt entries in other people’s lists into one of my lists (e.g. an authour, a book or thematic list
  • It would be great if such lists could be imported somehow into tools people might use, e.g. Calibre, Delicious Library, Zotero
  • I don’t think you need a unique ID for a book, like Tom originally suggested, if the aim is discovery. It’s enough to be able to build triangles that allow navigation and discovery, from me to a title or author, to another reader or more books by an author, or other books in lists where this one shows up
  • OPML with our without RSS seems the most simple approach here, as the type of info we’re talking about is very well suited to outliners. OPML outlines, and outlines of outlines, can be machine readable and human readable at the same time (case in point, my OPML list of blogs I follow, which is human readable as a blogroll and can also directly be imported into any feedreader
  • The first list I think I should make as an experiment, is the list of things I might read, my current non-fiction Anti-Library

That last point I’ve added to my things to do if I find some spare moments.


The other side of a book case, image by Ton Zijlstra, license CC BY NC SA

It sounds like a good and easy enough experiment, getting your own simple e-book out in the market. My eye fell first on Reinier Ladan’s Dutch language video on making zines (everything old is new again), via Frank’s newsletter. Today Robin Rendle’s post Volume A popped up in my feeds as an experiment to learn how to publish an e-book in a way that just gets something out there. Those two small nudges coalesce into the idea that it should be very doable to collect a few connected blogposts and turn them into a slightly more coherent whole, for publication as a separate artefact. A decade ago I already reworked my closing SHiFT keynote Maker Households into something of an e-book draft at the suggestion and with advice of Henriette, and my Networked Agency or information strategies material would lend itself to it as well. The second nudge was the realisation that the e-book Elmine and I created in 2011(!) on How To Unconference Your Birthday (get the PDF in the sidebar on the right) is already zine like, and has both digital and physical form. An update after a decade makes sense as we already concluded after visiting Peter’s unconference and doing a short video session at Lane’s, and could be part of such an experiment in publishing e-books.

Everything old is new again. I think I should pick up some of the things where I left off decade ago. But this time not as some big scheme, my grand theory of everything all at once, but just as a small thing. As then it might actually happen.

Tom Critchlow last week wrote about a decentralised format for shareable bookshelves he came up with. I like the concept, it’s like the FOAF of old but for books, BOAF maybe? Like he mentions in the updates, while providing JSON is probably more fitting technology for the now, there is a world of RSS and OPML out there that might mean a more ready made environment. After all RSS can have very different payloads, as podcasting shows.

I’ve been writing here every now and then since a year or so about (not all of) the books I read. Like Tom says, there’s no getting around the dominance of Goodread and its owner Amazon, other than doing something yourself. I started writing here about my reading, not for the first time in the past two decades, precisely because I don’t want to add my effort to Goodreads. Although I do post affiliate links to Amazon here, as there is not reliable other way to link to books so that it makes sense for most readers. No way to dynamically link a book to your ‘local’ bookstore. Maybe I should just stop doing that, linking to Amazon. People can search a book in their own preferred way easily enough.

This looks like a very useful work, by over 65 authors and a team of editors including Mor Rubinstein and Tim Davis: The State of Open Data

A little over a decade has passed since open data became a real topic globally and in the EU. I had my first discussions about open data in the spring of 2008, and started my first open data project, for the Dutch Ministry for the Interior, in January 2009. The State of Open Data looks at what has been achieved around the world over that decade since, but also looks forward:

How will open data initiatives respond to new concerns about privacy, inclusion, and artificial intelligence? And what can we learn from the last decade in order to deliver impact where it is most needed? The State of Open Data brings together over 65 authors from around the world to address these questions and to take stock of the real progress made to date across sectors and around the world, uncovering the issues that will shape the future of open data in the years to come.

Over 18 months the authors and editors worked to pull all this material together. That is quite an impressive effort. I look forward to working my way through the various parts in the coming time. Next to the online version African Minds has made a hard copy version available, as well as a free downloadable PDF. That PDF comes in at 594 pages, so don’t expect to take it all in in one sitting.

Bryan Alexander has been holding online book club readings for both fiction and non-fiction books. The next edition will be reading Shoshana Zuboff’s The Age of Surveillance Capitalism. I recently bought a copy, and I will read along with the rest of the group in the coming few weeks. (I’m also thinking about a recently read book list here on this site. I track my reading anyway, and might as well share some of that here.)