When it comes to emerging trends on the web German academia has been sceptic at best and utterly indifferent and ignorant per default. A seminar on Web 2.0 or two, a few thesis on wikis or blogging are floating around and that’s about it. Even new media theorists are rather proud to not read any blogs at all, it is perceived as a sign of critical thinking to point out that the Wikipedia has errors and standing ovations for anyone who planted the error himself.
Well, longish intro for the simple statement that it is notable that the library of the University of Hamburg started a research project which does leverage practices like tagging or open participation to provide an alternative to standard cataloguing practices.
Beluga shall become a library catalogue 2.0. Scientific literature will be digitised and made available on demand (e.g. for classes of for import in e-learning tools), the academic community will be invited to share their expertise by tagging books or creating and sharing reading lists, new connections shall be triggered by open conversations around the books.
Besides social features they also will research on information visualisation and navigation; Beluga also will be open to other databases or web services like Amazon.
Official start of development is November 2007, the project is scheduled to run for 2 years, we will keep an eye on this.
They will have to benchmark Beluga against services like Google Book Search or Google’s other book related projects, citeulike or LibraryThing and who knows what has happened until then, but it is a start.
(This article originally was written for blognation Germany. Since blognation is gone I have reposted it here)