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Scribd: how to recreate the circulating library in digital form

Scribd puts me in mind of the circulating library. Early in the 20th century, many people consumed fiction from a circulating library - simply another name for a private library. Users were charged a fee for the privilege of borrowing books from the library. Instead of buying one book, the customer paid an annual subscription and could borrow books for a set time. Typically, the subscription enabled the user to borrow just one book at a time. For a higher subscription, the customer could borrow more books at once. 


Scribd home page


From eBooks to communities

The curiously named “Beyond eBooks” (University College, London, April 2014) was the latest in a series of annual conferences devoted to ebooks. The title was curious, since ebooks were hardly mentioned in several of the presentations. A better title might have been “epublishing in 2014, including ebooks”. I don’t remember the keynote presentation referring to ebooks at all. Nobody seemed to mind too much that the conference was so broad, although anyone seeking details of how to implement EPUB3 would have gone away none the wiser.

The future of enterprise search is Trip Advisor

So said Roovn Pakiri, co-presenter of the keynote address at this year’s Enterprise Search Europe (London, April). His presentation represented the curious way in which a logical argument can go from a simple, sensible statement to something that is decidedly questionable within a few sentences. There was some justice in the premise, but a sharp intake of breath at the event when this conclusion was stated. How did the argument lead to this point?

AccountingWEB: a model community

AccountingWEB has been running for some 15 years, which makes it one of the longest-established communities on the Web. I'm not even sure there was a Web 15 years ago. And the slick website oozes confidence. Simply reading the numbers of reads or comments for content on the home page makes you realise this is a thriving site: over 8,000 reads for "the worst mistake accountants make" (strange that such a story should be so popular with accountants), 7,700 reads for a new article about an accountant fined by his professional association for abusing HM Revenue & Customs officials.

PatientsLikeMe: how good a community site?

A site entitled PatientsLikeMe states its goal very clearly - this is a site for sufferers to share experiences and views, and with 240,000 registered users (or 220,000, the site lists two different totals) it clearly meets a need. How does it rank as an example of a community site?

<--break->I started by looking for a condition, which is where I imagine most users would start. I keyed Alzheimer's, and the resulting screen started with a definition of the disease, followed by a table:

Table of symptoms

Unravelling Ravelry: how to build an online community

There can never have been a more appropriate name for a website. Ravelry can refer not only to the practice of knitting (of which this site must be the definitive community) but also to the astonishingly intricate structure of the site. Ravelry comprises not one but five interlinked databases, covering pretty much the entire activity of a practising knitter. It's a very impressive capture of the activity of knitting - not just buying things, which most community sites would start with, but also evaluating patterns, dreaming about projects, and even remembering which needles you own.