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Amazon Hacks by Paul Bausch

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Group Conversations About Books

You can get insight into loosely connected conversations about books at All Consuming.

Think about all the conversations taking place on the Web at this moment. Unlike spoken conversation, conversations on the Web have a physical presence, a shape that persists over time in the form of digital text, and a visible trail left behind by people participating in the conversation. Trying to figure out what these conversations are about and following them from beginning to end, however, is not as easy as it might seem.

Conversations rarely give indicators allowing you to easily tell what they are about. Creating a script to determine this would require that it be able to interpret the meanings of sentences. To complicate things further, conversations can expand quickly to fill the entire community’s consciousness overnight, or may lie dormant for months or years before being picked up again. Tracking and grouping these various bits of conversations has become a great opportunity and challenge for tool developers. All Consuming (http://allconsuming.net) is one web site that uses Amazon’s friendly Web Services to attempt to track a tiny fraction of these conversations: those about books.

What Makes Grouping Conversations Possible

Tracking and following conversations about books became possible because these conversations had a couple fortunate characteristics.

First of all, books have unique identifiers. They have ISBNs (International Standard Book Numbers) that ...

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