Listening to a Jon Udell podcast is a real pleasure. I usually listen while walking around downtown San Francisco on my lunch hour. Jon takes the most obscure corners of the technology world and makes them engaging. He’s very good at connecting things. His conversation with Stuart Weibel is a great example. He starts with metadata issues around catagorizing books and ends up with WorldCat, the best possible way to find a book in a library— and possibly my new favorite search engine.
Yes, I know. It’s easy to find any book on Amazon, but sometimes you don’t need to buy a book, you just need to read it. And with WorldCat you can find any book held in any participating library. And because we’re talking about libraries, most are participating. Unlike the world of commerce where incompatible proprietary standards are considered a competitive advantage, libraries just want to help people find books. It’s a beautiful thing.
As a side note, my favorite library doesn’t participate in WorldCat. It’s a membership library in Downtown San Francisco called The Mechanics’ Institute Library. It was established in 1854 and has one of the most beautiful chess rooms you’ll ever set eyes on.