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Open the Library and See All The People

More link love today, as I work on my talk for Thursday (issues for will range from Ranganathan to Andrew Abbott; my job is to set catalogers forth on gossamer wings).

Jessamyn over at librarian.net says it best, as is often the case:

Someone asked me during one of my talks if I knew of any projects that were actually trying to open source cataloging records and the idea of authority records. I said I didn’t, not really. It’s a weird juxtaposition, the idea of authority and the idea of a collaborative project that anyone can work on and modify. I knew there were some folks at the Internet Archive working on something along those lines, but the project was under wraps for quite some time. Now, it’s not. Its called Open Library and it’s in demo mode. You can examine it and I encourage you to do that and give lots of feedback to the developers. Make sure to check the “about the librarianship” page.

As an aside, I would argue Wikipedia at both its best and worst is a “weird juxtaposition” of “the idea of authority and the idea of a collaborative project that anyone can work on and modify.” After all, under the rubric of “anyone can edit,” a cadre of editors make many key decisions; I am privy to many mumblings about the “self-important b*****ds” — more to the point, gatekeepers —  whose unwritten rules kibosh changes and new pages.

Also, without really strong control, Wikipedia has entries such as the one on Ranganathan that for all Wikipedia’s blather about “Neutral Point of View” in its discussion of the Colon Classification System might as well put scare quotes around the term “Google.”

I’ll spend some time looking at OpenLibrary today, since it seems relevant, but I’m cautious about running into a keynote presentation emphasizing the latest New New Thing. (In fact, I don’t think we get much past 1991 in tomorrow’s talk, and that’s intentional.) That said, I am always interested in what Internet Archive is up to (and just this week was thrilled to exhume an old web page, courtesy of the Wayback Machine). Kahle embodies my talk tomorrow. I want to be him when I grow up (well, except for that gender thing).

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