Well, it seems today is the day for repackaging library services as Web 2.0 apps. Not only has the search engine ChaCha begun providing co-browsing services, but now we’ve got GoodReads. Yes, yes, I know, we’ve had LibraryThing for ages, but that at least had library in the title. I think perhaps this one bugs me because it’s called the exact same thing as the recommender page of my local library.
But why should this bother me? Is it the same? Better? Worse? The premise for GoodReads (and LibraryThing) is the community of recommenders. Rather than one or two librarians researching and providing recommender services and lists, these rely on a community of readers to weigh in and share likes and dislikes with other users. Maybe that is better… it’s at least more ground than one librarian could cover. But what about the community of librarians? Surely we didn’t do it all on our own (or did we?). We must have talked to eachother…served as a recommender amongst ourselves to get the word out. And we read reviews… but how was that any better than anyone else reading reviews?
My thoughts aren’t quite formed on this subject yet…give me time and I’ll put a little marketing shine and silver lining on this.
Update: Every librarian I’ve told about ChaCha says “Oooh, how cool!” Even the ones who provide chat reference/co-browsing! I was beginning to think my reservations were misplaced, but then I took a closer look at the ChaCha Chat window on the left of these screenshots (the middle one) and I was rather amused that they decided to include this particular chat session which doesn’t seem to be going too well.
This guy is looking for golf balls. The guided search person says “Have you checked the Relevant Links in the sidebar?” That would be the grey-box sidebar which are paid advertisement links. When the patron says “none of those are what I want” the Search Assitant drops out and the service says “Another search expert will be on shortly who can help you better!” So…by better you mean you’ll help me out beyond just telling me to click on your advertiser’s links? Are you serious?