Like many people, I think, it’s easy (for me, at least) to become overwhelmed by the increasingly rapid development of new/evolving Internet-based applications. In particular, how is one to tell what is just hype vs. being really useful? I don’t have time (that is, inclination) to endlessly search and research these types of things so I try to find blogs where other people have already separated the technological wheat from the chaff.
To this end, a new blog I’ve started reading is Joe Wikert’s Publishing 2020 Blog. He is Vice President and Executive Publisher in the Professional/Trade division of John Wiley & Sons, Inc., and his blog has a focus on publishing- and book-related technology that often allows me to learn about things that I wouldn’t normally come across.
Recently he discussed both Shelfari and LibaryThing. These sites allow registered users to build virtual “bookshelves” composed of books they own. The best thing about these sites, though, is that they function as social networking hubs built around the books people list. That is, if you list Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat [Updated and Expanded]: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century on your “shelf” you can see other users who have listed that book in addition writing your own reviews, making comments, and communicating with like-minded people who share your reading interests.
I’m most interested in these applications because, in theory, you can have rotating displays of book covers of the books on a bookshelf in a sidebar widget on a blog. (Sidebar widgets are those items like “Blog Disclaimer” and “Top Posts” and so on in the right-hand menu of our blog.) Unfortunately, due to, I think, a lack of support (yet) for WordPress, I haven’t been able to make this feature work quite right on our blog.