The world of search is about to be flipped completely on its head. As part of that sea change, today’s reactive Web-based searches are about to give way to proactive, geo-fenced answers that will pop up before you even frame the question.
That’s the intro to an article on Google Now from Read/Write Web that didn’t seem to get much pick up from the folks I follow online. But more of this sort of re-framing is heading our way, no doubt about it. Case in point, today OCLC lauched an android app called MapFAST today.
The name MapFAST will probably only sense to librarians – and perhaps only a small subset at that. FAST stands for Faceted Application of Subject Terminology and it is OCLC’s way of turning the Library of Congress Subject Headings schema into something faceted, or in other words, more like tags.
This mashup prototype was developed using the longitude and latitude information contained in the FAST Geographic authority records and is based on a Google Maps demonstration.
The underlying FAST Geographic authority records are available as a Web Service, allowing discovery of authorities near a set of geographic coordinates.
Three versions of mapFAST are available:
The online prototype supports large-screen viewing on desktops and laptops.
The online mobile version supports browser viewing on devices of any size.
The Android app provides customized access on Android devices.
So not only did OCLC roll out an app, it rolled out a beta web service in case someone wants to try their hand at making something better…
What I think OCLC has been able to achieve here I think is really quite impressive. Unfortunately at this admittedly early stage of development, the technical achievements they’ve managed to bring to life alone isn’t .. well it isn’t romantic enough for book lovers. There’s a lot of affection for putting books to a place (I would present Project Bookmark Canada as an example of this) and OCLC hasn’t tapped into this yet.
It will prove interesting when pre-geolocation ‘books in places’ websites when are turned into true mobile sites. I’m thinking of sites like BookCrossing and services like LibraryThing’s LibraryThing Local.
But maybe I’m not characterizing local discovery through mobile devices as an ‘up and coming’ correctly? Maybe it’s already here and so normal and natural it’s not being really noticed? Case in point, here’s the what I get when I click on the ‘Local radio’ menu item from tunein:
While there are some inherent dangers that come with geo-fencing such as the filter-bubble effect and compounding our already barely-global perspectives we find online, I am hopeful of one thing: it is finally time for the idea of a local web portal to die die die.