I’m an avid reader of books. I am kind of an Amazon.com addict that way too. Unfortunately, 95% of the books I read are of the geek variety – some sort of alphabet soup of technologies that I’m constantly chasing in order to stay on top of the web development industry.
In the past couple of days, I’ve seen two very “web 2.0-ey” things pop up on my radar screen that are of particular interest to bookworms.
Flickr for bookworms
First off is LibraryThing. This site is for those that like to put all their books in alphabetical order and categorized in their bookshelf, for people who spend too much time and money on Amazon.com, and for your basic, garden variety readers that like to find out what others are reading. LibraryThing is social networking applied to books. I love it, I have to admit, because when I put in my most recent reads, it helped me map out my next set of books by showing me what others that read like me have in their shelves.
The Decline of Western Civilization
Or: Anyone with a Xanaga or MySpace blog can publish the entirety of their mindless drivel as a book in a few simple steps.
Since the invention of the written word, there have been systems in place to keep people from publishing that should really have no business doing so. Usually it was funds, or access, or education, or censorship. But over time, things have gotten in the way of all that. First to come along was moveable type. Industrial printing processes made the cost continually cheaper and cheaper to publish content. Then came mimeograph and photocopy machines, which helped in a low budget way to get stuff out there in a pinch. Desktop publishing was made feasable and popular with the advent of the Macintosh in 1984, and electronic media made it simpler to move and present that content. But once the web came along and any yahoo with a modem could post pictures of their cats, and pr0n, it was a sleigh ride straight to hell ever since. And it’s picking up speed right as you read this.
To cap that process off, we have Blurb.com. All you have to do is write your book and lay out your content in an easy to use framework, and they take care of the rest. And you know what comes next?
My Cat Whiskers, by I.M. Sad.
Seriously though – this is a wildly cool idea, to allow any aspiring author to test the waters of publishing. This reminds me of how Mac iApps strive to lower the barriers for getting things done, but somewhere along the lines these new web applications have started to catch up and pass what is possible on desktop software, at least in terms of convenience and usability. I think we’re really seeing the practical results of the web diminishing the importance of the operating system with this kind of stuff. Many of the web apps I’m seeing built today have more functionality and more usability than equivalents you can find on the desktop.