A Brain of Books

The folks behind MusicBrainz which can identify digital music files through fingerprinting are working on BookBrainz. Early days yet with around 37,000 works listed. An open database of books that has the attention to detail that MusicBrainz does is exciting.

The challenge I see is that MusicBrainz core value is the ability to identify a song/track by fingerprinting the actual file content. That’s separate from what a human claims the track is. That sort of thing won’t work with books because there’s no file or asset for them to fingerprint. So, it becomes another user-generated list of things. It’ll have all the problems that exist in that world which sites like Wikipedia have dealt with for decades.

It feels a little like “yet another site trying to catalog the world.” I’m biased having worked for Wikipedia but I’d love for there to be higher collaboration between these groups. The folks at Internet Archive work closely with the folks at Wikipedia. It might be more successful for BookBrainz to connect with Wikidata and/or Wikisource instead of building their own collection.

I don’t intend that Wikimedia should “have it all” but collaboration and data sharing between these groups is where real magic could happen.

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