Open Book Talk
“A booktalk in the broadest terms is what is spoken with the intent to convince someone to read a book.” Wikipedia
Whilst putting together yesterday’s post about personal art collections online (for a wider take on this, see Mia Ridge’s The rise of the non-museum (and death by aggregation), which offers all manner of food for thought around personal collection building…), I started thinking again about how we might use recorded discussions or book talks focussing on particular books as a component in the “content scaffolding” around works that might be used as resources in an informal learning context.
(For an earlier foray in to the book talk world, see my post on BBC “In Our Time” Reading List using Linked Data.)
So the (really simple and obvious) idea is this (and I fully appreciate other sites out there may already exist that do this: if so, please let me know in the comments): how about we build a lookup service that allows you to search by author, book title, ISBN (or cross ISBN), and it returns details for the book as well as links to audio or video recordings of book talks around the book.
I’ve started trying to cobble together a few resources around this, setting up (a not yet complete set of) scrapers (in various states of disrepair) on Scraperwiki to collate books and book talk audio links from:
- TechNation (scraper)
- Authors@Google (scraper) [only author names? No book info? Maybe if the date of upload was captured we could guess at the book tour from the scheduling of it?]
- BBC Radio 4′s A Good Read (scraper)
- BBC Radio 4′s Book Club (scraper)
- BBC Radio 4′s Start The Week (scraper)
- BBC Radio 4′s In Our Time (scraper) [okay, this isn't strictly discussing books; but it is abut ideas and there are links to books in the programme notes]
- Philosophy Bites (scraper) [again, not about books per se, but a good context for conversational sensemaking around ideas contained in easily linked to books on the topic written by the author?]
- [probably untold other podcasts...]
- Guardian Books podcast
- BBC Combined book related podcasts
It might also be appropriate to try to pull in “quality” book reviews* to annotate book listings, given that part of my idea at least is to find ways of enriching reading book references with discussion around them that can help folk make sense of the big ideas contained within the book, as well as maybe encouraging them to buy the book (the all required sustainability model: in this case, Amazon referral fees! Note that several of the sites use Amazon referrals as part of their own sustainability model. So it would only be fair to use their affiliate codes at least part of the time if their playable audio content was embedded on the site (even if that content is openly licensed… Share and share alike, right?! That is, trickle back a portion of any income you do make off the work of others, even if it is openly licensed for commercial use;-)
Another strand to all of this, of course, is sensemaking annotations around books pulled from “OERs” (what is is about education that makes the sector want its content to be somehow regarded as “special” and deserving of all sorts of qualification?!;-)
*Maybe the Guardian Platform API or one of the New York Times APIs could play a role here?
So, as ever, I’ve made a start, and as ever, that’ll probably be the end of it…. Sigh… Nice thought while it lasted though…
PS if I were to do next steps, it would probably to take the scraped data and try to normalise it in some ad hoc way in a triple store, maybe on the Talis platform? Note that in the current incarnation, some of the scraped BBC data contains multiple book references in a single record, and thise should be spearated out; also note that a lot of book references are informal (author/title), though I did manage to grab ISBNs (I think?!) from the IT COnversations/Tech Nation pages.
PPS In passing, I note that some of the older archived episodes of A Good Read have been split into chapters covering the different books reviewed in the programme? Was this some sort of experimental enrichment, or just the start of a more general roll out of chapterisation…?