‘web2.0′ tracking of book list?

So a non-techie librarian friend of mine had an idea. He basically wants to maintain a book list online so friends can see it, in a social web 2.0 type way, and he also wants to be able to easily add books from his mobile palm device.

Oddly, in his experimentation, none of the free social-booklist-type web apps like LibraryThing give you a good mobile interface for adding books.

So he started thinking about combining APIs from existing apps. One idea he had was to combine the Twitter API and the Google Docs API with a little glue software, so he could post things to twitter with a certain format (which apparently is easy to do from a mobile interface), and they’d be automatically added to a Google Docs spreadsheet. But he doesn’t actually have the programming skills to write that glue himself.

There might be a better way to accomplish these goals than that too. This seems like something it should be possible to do with existing free tools, it’s an interesting problem.

Anyone have any ideas?  He might be willing to pay a reasonable amount for the programming, if someone wants to program some glue code using existing APIs (like Twitter etc) for him.

Here’s his summary:

Task: Track the books I read – Title, author, start and end times, and a brief note. Want to do this for personal use, but also have 2.0 aspect. Currently am entering in a GridMagic spreadsheet on BlackBerry and also sending Twitter messages with hashtag #kgsbks, but would prefer to do single point of entry.

Issues: Must be able to do this with Internet-enabled BlackBerry. So far, all online book-tracking services I’ve found (Shelfari, LibraryThing, Goodreads, etc.) have poor, crippled, or nonexistent mobile accessibility. I have virtually no coding experience, so I can tell that this seems likely to be doable, but I know that I can’t do it myself.

Proposed solution: An application that uses the Twitter API to pull messages sent (either with hashtag, or to @kgsbks) into a format that I can comfortably edit. I’m most familiar with Excel, so it seems like something that would send the data to a Google Docs spreadsheet would be ideal.

Tools/Resources

Twitter API (http://apiwiki.twitter.com/)

Google Spreadsheets Data API (http://code.google.com/apis/spreadsheets/overview.html)

This tutorial (http://dotjay.co.uk/2008/feb/php-twitter-google-calendar-sms) showing how the user has gotten Twitter to talk to GCal.

Space available on a Linux/UNIX computer that can host the app.

Various Twitter software libraries (http://apiwiki.twitter.com/Libraries)

[Later:]

The more I look at this, it might make more sense in the end to create an XML page that I can access through the mobile browser and make that my entry point. Then a back-end can populate both Twitter and my spreadsheet/database/whatever.

Ideas? Want to do a tiny project for a bit of change? Comment here, or email him directly at ksiewer tulsalibrary org.

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2 Responses to ‘web2.0′ tracking of book list?

  1. I’m thinking backwards. Rather than using Twitter to update a document, why not use a service to update a service?

    I think ksiewer could use a WorldCat.org list and run the list’s RSS feed to TwitterFeed (set up a new account there) which would send each post as a tweet on a scheduled basis.

    The list could be maintained via his BB internet browser, though that would be a bit clunky.

    The list could be downloaded in CSV format for local storage and/or manipulation.

    Going this route could give him more options in aggregating his books by using a service like FriendFeed.

    The RSS feed includes the full title which TwitterFeed would pick up and tweet. Between the title, his hash tag and the TinyURL link, he would surely max the 140 characters so the title would be truncated. The start and end dates could be added to the notes field on the WorldCat.org list.

    Or perhaps he could look at Yahoo! Pipes to pull together various services and feeds.

  2. John says:

    I’m trying to pull together some people to talk about just this sort of thing — use cases for book widgets. We have some techie sorts that are interested in coding these things up using open source. Maybe your person would be interested in joining the discussion.

    The discussion list:

    https://lists.sourceforge.net/lists/listinfo/openbookwpress-general

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