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The User is not only not Broken…

I’m off to help make jam and pickles at church for our annual holiday bazaar–a wonderful, peaceful, fun experience because I do not have to make a single decision; I chop, peel, stir, measure, wash, strain, and ladle under strict supervision from the Jam Ladies–but I had a thought about LibraryThing, and the thought leaked out onto a discussion list, and I got an interesting answer.

The thought I thunk was this: what about entering library books into LibraryThing? Though LT is primarily about the books we “own,” I consider myself part of a book if I have read it. It may not be a book I physically own–with the ink stripe on its spine–but it is a book that has melted into my experience like butter into bernaise.

It turns out, by way of a certain mouse, that I am not the first person to have that thought. Search LibraryThing for tags for “library books” or “library book,” and up pop a number of items. From talking to Tim Spalding, I know this kind of adaptation of LibraryThing will be leading to new features in LT. (Yes, I could do this in BookCrossing, but that’s a site that never took off for me.)

I will discuss this creative misuse of LibraryThing when I give talks or write about my meme/manifesto, The User is not Broken. (Oh, and I’ve heard a couple of online scribes say they don’t like manifestos; so don’t read them. Pushy, finger-pointy manifestos play their own role in any revolution.) People are often quite smart.

(I stop short of referring to the “wisdom of crowds”; after all, the crowds elected George Bush–and that’s the least dramatic historical example I am thinking of. I think of “hive mind” as a concept most appealing to WASPs and other majority groups; and if you’re not of the majority in some way, you dig what i mean.)

But I digress. I’d love to see “I read this book” as a dinglebob to click in LT, and I think there’s some room here for distinguishing among types of ownership (intellectual, physical, current, past, future), but I will start using the “library book” tag on books I’ve read but do not own the treeware for. Prediction: if LT developed this feature, the reviews would skew downward (which is a Good Thing). I only own a five-star collection–but sisters and brothers, let me tell you about the books I returned last week..!

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