Erik Benson's wonderful All Consuming book site continues to delight me. The newest feature, First Line Trivia, presents the first line of a book on each refresh of the home page. You try to guess the book, and click through to see the answer. Members, who can edit book metadata, add the first-line data, IMDb-style. Example:
First Line TriviaThis could get addictive!
This is a tale of two cities. Cities of the near future, say ten or twenty years from now.
The first-line-trivia feature pushed me over the activation threshold, and I registered for the site. As a member, you can create a list of friends, which is seeded for you with candidates gleaned from Google's what's related and bl.ogs' related blogs. When friends add books to their All Consuming lists, you can receive them as web (and optionally email) recommendations -- and vice versa, your list can recommend books to them.
In fact, I'm unlikely to maintain an explicit book list because the blog universe that All Consuming inhabits already disseminates book awareness very effectively. Bloggers mention books on their blogs; All Consuming picks up on those references; its RSS feed brings them to my attention.
I'm surprised that there isn't more chatter about All Consuming on the weblogs I read. Increasingly, when I link to a book, I'm now likely to offer its All Consuming URL rather than its Amazon URL. Of course, as I just realized when reading this interview, Erik is an Amazon employee. Perfect! All Consuming is, in my view, one of the cleverest imaginable marketing schemes for Amazon -- and for books in general. More and more books are available, at ever higher prices, but fewer and fewer people read. Boosting demand is the only hope for publishing, and Erik's service does that magnificently well. I'm more aware of books now than I have been in years. And since All Consuming's URIs are compatible with LibraryLookup, it's easier than ever to satisfy the increased demand.
Update When you use All Consuming, you may be surprised by unintended consequences. The other day, I was puzzled to see it attribute to me a reference to a book I hadn't mentioned on this blog. I wrote to Erik about it, and he was stumped for a while too, then he realized that it must have been something my Google box found and made available to All Consuming. It just now happened again. I put the phrase \"all consuming\" into my Google box. A few minutes later, All Consuming attributed a reference to Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic to my blog. I find these spontaneous interactions fascinating and delightful. I can foresee, though, that a time will come when we'll want to be able to control these effects -- for example, by applying robots.txt-like technology at the level of page components.
Further Update: Michael Bernstein has a name for this phenomenon: GoogleThrashing. And he has proposed the same kind of solution.
Former URL: http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2003/01/02.html#a560