Sunday, February 20, 2005

Queries, blogs, and books

Jon Udell has posted a fascinating example using his XPath query service: a view of his feeds "organized by bloggers who most frequently cite books on" which is made all the more fascinating by the fact that CollabuTech shows up in the query results. I found myself wondering what book Guy had linked to, as I hadn't recently talked about a book. I clicked on the link Jon published, and saw my link to Dixie Chicken from one of my XM posts. So Jon's query pulls up music too, and not just books.

This query takes the "what are the people I read reading (or listening to)" nature of blogs to the next level by filtering for a certain type of link. I don't know whether Jon is looking to expand his reading list or just proving a point, but this is certainly an excellent way to find interesting stuff to read.

Guy and I attempt to do this through a book club we have at work. We've always shared book recommendations with each other, and it seemed natural to open the circle to whichever of our coworkers might be interested.

In the course of the club's first six months, we've found that we have much better success with targeted, personal invitations than we do with official announcements, even those with executive impramatur. Official announcements can get lost in the clutter of email, but a face-to-face chat or a phone call to someone who seems likely to interested in books and new ideas based on what we already know about that person is much more effective.

This approach is roughly analogous to Jon's query. They are simply to different means of leveraging a social network to find and discuss reading material.

So what are we reading? We've read the following:

The Innovator’s Dilemma
by Clayton Christiansen

The Rise of the Creative Class
by Richard Florida

The Social Life of Information
by John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid

The Wisdom of Crowds
by James Surowiecki

And we are currently reading Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution by Howard Rheingold.

I'll have to save reviews for another post.


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