August 7, 2005 21:46 | Culture / Technology / WebTech

Judge a book by it's thumbprint

A few months ago I enabled a feature on Joi Ito's weblog which I called his "blog thumbprint". What it is, is a weighted list of the most frequently used words in the entirety of Joi's blog, with the text size adjusted to represent the frequency of use. The bigger the word, the more Joi uses it. It's useful to see what's on his mind, long term.

It looks like a tag cloud, but it isn't. It's just a word count, mashed into a list of keywords. I'd like to point out that this display method is very useful for things other than just tags, thank you very much.

Amazon calls it "concordance" and it's a feature that seems to be on for some of the books in their database, along with text stats. (Here are some other definitions for that word.)

Check it out. Very cool. And clicking on any term in the thumbprint gives you it's actual "concordance", i.e., shows it to you in the context of the line it is in, in the book.

Oh how I dream of a Sony LibriƩ type device with a 80Gig 1.5" HD, with an open OS so that we the book geeks of the world could hack out awesome software, like this and who knows what other fantastic heuristics, for traversing our personal libraries.

"I read somewhere ... gimme a sec..."