September 30, 2005

Mapping the Collective Literary Consciousness

The internet as a collective consciousness. An idea flung about so often its almost become dogma. But has anyone seen a way towards mapping this collective consciouness, of visually tracking the depth of this strange interconnected consciousness. Perhaps such an exercise is impossible, because a collective consciousness, just like any other consciousness, is infinetly multifaceted. However, it may be possible to map out one facet of this consciousness as a sample study, as a showpiece for interconnectedness...
Well, thats my take on gnod, anyway. Gnod is two things at once, an intuitive searchable database and a map. The searchable elements are a little limited: books, movies, music. Its supposed to work like a search engine for things you dont know about. Let me stick with explaining Gnod Books ( Gnooks!) for a start:
1. The intuitive database
Access the intuitive gnooks database and type in three of your favourite authors
Gnooks processes your query and throws back the names of some other authors that you may like, dislike or not know at all. Click accordingly.
The end process is a list of authors that are pretty much connected, on some level or the other, to the ones you just keyed in. In itself, no big deal, the database throws back authors who were liked by other people who keyed in authors similar to yours. Its a learning database, but then again, what isnt nowadays?
Now for the cool part.
2. The map
Access the literature map and key in the name of a random author (try to get it right, please). In about five seconds, the browser takes you to a page that explodes with words, names of authors, that scatter to the corners, or bunch around the center of the page, with your author's name at the epicenter. Slowly they settle into tentative positions, shifting ever so slightly now and then. This is the result of all your database entry creation: A collective map of all the authors who were liked by other users, placed in relation to the author you keyed in. Kurt Vonnegut, George Orwell, Ray Bradbury, and other satirical science fiction authors huddle together for warmth and comfort, surrounded by at least fifty other names, all placed in relation to Kurt Vonnegut (my search).
It need'nt be more than an exercise in coolness, or a place to find more authors like the ones youve loved, or to map the very idea of a genre as a spot within the landscape of literature... Its potential appears mind boggling, however, as it graphically displays the landscape of literary preferences. Check it out, see what you think. If your a bookie fan, this is some sort of psychedelic dream come true.
Or a totally new way of seeing and mapping the topography of literary preferences.

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