Talking Tech Friday – BookLamp.org

I’m pretty excited about today’s Talking Tech topic – I actually keep a list of topics, and I’d added Booklamp.org several weeks ago. I’d totally forgotten about it until now!

What is it?
From their about page: BookLamp is a book recommendation system that uses the full text of a book to match it to other books based on scene-by-scene measurements of elements such as pacing, density, action, dialog, description, perspective, and genre, among others.

Because BookLamp is still in a beta form, the comparison database is still pretty limited and not very accurate. BookLamp suggests that you take recommendations with a grain of salt until they have added more books to the database. Also, the database currently only holds science fiction and fantasy books. They emphasize that while their service isn’t very functional yet, they are working on it. By signing up for BookLamp now, you basically just show interest and support for the service.

How does it work?
You do have to register to use BookLamp, but it’s not a lengthy process. By registering, you can compare books, post in the forums, and suggest books to be added.

BookLamp has an interesting video that demonstrate how BookLamp was created and how books are matched and what kind of metrics are used.

To look for recommendations, you choose from a drop-down menu of books that are in the database. I chose Taran Wanderer by Lloyd Alexander (I love the Prydain Chronicles!). After thinking for a moment, the engine came up with 2 recommendations: Orion Arm by Julian May, and Marching Through Peachtree by Harry Turtledove. I actually haven’t read either of those books, so I can’t say whether or not I agree with the recommendation, but it’s certainly worth a try!

Clicking on the recommended titles brings up a sidebar with the book’s vital statistics: genre, length, date published, ISBN, and a brief plot synopsis and how the book scored on Pacing, Density, Action, Description, and Dialog. You can see this information about your starting title as well, including some graphs and a descriptions of what they mean by “density,” for example.

The interface is very smooth, attractive, and intuitive. I like it quite a bit. The search function is understandably limited, however. There is no free search, but I assume that this would be possible when the service is fully functional. The drop-down list is sorted, bafflingly, by the author’s first name.

Possible Library Uses
I can see this as being a great reader’s advisory tool – once it’s fully functional. BookLamp aspires to be a “Pandora for books” – and I really love love love Pandora. If BookLamp can deliver that kind of service, I would really be happy to recommend it to anyone! Right now, I think it’s worth throwing in our support and input. Think of how much better BookLamp could be with the aid of a few librarians making suggestions!

BookLamp is also looking for suggestions for their future direction, so if you explore and have ideas, feel free to suggest them.

Reviews

I’m running low on column topics again, so here’s my periodic begging for suggestions! Remember – I’m willing to try out any web-based application that you’re curious about but haven’t had the chance to try! Suggest anything for any reason, and I’ll check it out and write it up! I only have 2 restrictions: it must be free, and I don’t want to download anything. I look foward to your suggestions in the comments!

Another quick comment – I composed this post in Zoho Writer and automatically posted it to the blog. I really like the composition tools in Writer, and if I can post without incident, I’ll probably compose more blog posts here instead of in WordPress – you all know how I fell about WordPress…

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~ by Anali on May 30, 2008.

One Response to “Talking Tech Friday – BookLamp.org”

  1. Here’s one for you: xtimeline.com
    I saw it reviewed on Infodoodads ( http://infodoodads.com/?p=387 )– it looks pretty fun, and actually might have some library reference potential.

    Thanks for the BookLamp review. I like Pandora, too, and it would be great to have a similar tool for literature. LibraryThing is pretty good, once you have a large enough library created, and there’s always Novelist and What Do I Read Next?, but there’s room for more.

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