LibraryThing’s evolving Social Network

Eoin Purcell

Call me stupid
But when I signed up for LibraryThing I never really considered the positive effects of the social aspect. Silly me. I guess because I am not a huge convert to social networks (Facebook being the only one to hold my attention for long but still never sucking up the hours social networking does for many). In any case I have watched with a certain detached interest as LibraryThing has rolled more features that lead it into the social network area and I have to say I have been impressed.

Even the latest round of additions seem to flow from a very natural sense of expansion and to grow almost organically around what the user wants and need. The one I like the most is the interesting library feature:

1. Friends and Interesting Libraries. (On your profile.) LibraryThing now offers a number of different “connections” between members. Shared books are still primary, but we’ve added “Interesting Libraries,” “Friends” and “Private Watchlist.”*** Interesting libraries are a one-way thing, although the person you mark as interesting gets a heads-up notice. “Friends” is a mutual connection. “Private Watch Lists” are still private. You can edit your connections, and see who has you on their lists.

Where to though
Where my trouble begins however is in seeing the value of these services. I know that the meta-data coming of the social connections might be useful. I can see how one might enjoy looking over the libraries of a friend or an interesting non-friend mining it for books you feel you would like, but overall I just wonder if they won’t reach the point of banality pretty quickly.

Will the meta-data help sell more book? How many new book ideas can one person actually need? Do I need to reinforce the strong gut feeling I have that I belong to a seriously nerdy subset of the population? Will I actually want to chat about books with someone in Europe who also happens to have a US Civil War fascination (and why so few do escapes me)?

If I was interested in that surely there are many existing forums and newsgroups for that type of discussion, I never joined them because the level of debate was so poor, the absence of evidence other than assertion predominated and the arguments could shift into vitriolic personal abuse with ease. the Talk forum on LibraryThing doesn’t seem to be headed that way but it also just doesn’t appeal to me.

Maybe it is me, in fact I am pretty sure it is me. I like the features, but I just do not see me using them to a huge extent. I much prefer the Early Reader system (is that the publisher or the reader in me).

Wondering if I was wrong
Eoin

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One comment

  1. I never really considered the social networking side of Library Thing either – I was (and still am) more interested in it primarily as a way of cataloguing my books, and perhaps finding other related ones that I might be interested in. I must be getting old because I find I can’t cope with more than one social networking site at a time, and for me that’s Livejournal, not Library Thing. But perhaps it’s time I had a closer look at some of the new stuff.

    Off to read Harry Potter.

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