Initial situation — In the age of Google, Wikipedia and ebooks, public libraries can’t define themselves any longer as a space only dedicated to the exchange of books. They are in the urge to find a new role online that complements their physical presence.
Approach — In my bachelor thesis, I’ve investigated a way to turn the classical digital catalog into a digital network that could offer a social reading experience while retaining its classical functionalities.
Result — The result of this process is a design concept based around the idea that if the library can be considered as a network, ebooks are its nodes. In this context, the nodes are linked through authors’ citations, users’ highlights or recommendations and also allow connections with external websites.
Supervised by Prof. Dr. Frank Heidmann and Prof. Matthias Krohn at the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam, Germany
Each book entry is represented in the catalog through a diagram summing up the quantities of its incoming and outcoming connections. Available in two perspectives, it alternatively visualizes the amount of users’ interactions (yellow) or the amount of authors’ citations (blue).
Helen enables the user to highlight text sections and to link those together in order to facilitate the connection of ideas and support the creation of personal knowledge (similar to the Memex). Linked highlights may be publicly or privately shared.
Helen takes over the authors’ footnotes and citations in order to transform them into navigable links to ebooks and web pages. Although not directly reachable, physical books are also meant to be taken into account.
In contrast to conventional library digital catalogs, the user is able to quickly and visually asset the proportions and the quantities within each facet.
By sorting search results by the number of incoming and outcoming links, the user is able to discover either which ebook is the most cited or which ebook is forwarding the most to further contents.
Chapter by chapter, the user is invited to explore the linked contents and the highlights from which they are originating. Beyond ebooks, any web-based artifact may be linked, too.
Ebooks, their highlights as well as any linked elements can be saved in the “stacks”.