Monday, August 18, 2008

Referencing Revolution?

In the midst of yet another 'where-have-I-put-my-car-keys-oh-god-they're-lost-forever, someone's-stolen-them-and-will-murder-me-in-the-night-oh-right-they're-in-the-car...I'm-driving-it' panic the other day, I stumbled upon a rather wonderful idea.

Wouldn't it be great if the world was library referenced? I don't mean google maps, although that is a wonderful invention (have you tried the walking down the street thing? Scary genius.). I mean tracking objects. Not in a scary, stalker Big Brother way, but in a personal, private panic way. I was inspired by Oxford libraries. With the Bodleian holding nearly every book every published in the UK, and other libraries holding a magnificent collection of titles, some of which probably deserve to be relegated to dark and dusty corners, others of which are justifiably worth thousands, they need a good cataloguing system.

Here's how it works: Let's say you fancy getting the book 'A History of Oxford' out. You can nip onto Oxford's library website and search by author, title, publisher, keyword or date. Usually this comes up with hundreds of irrelevant titles, but better skilled people than me seem to be able to get it to come up with their chosen title, all the info related to it and its location (library, section and shelf number). Finding it within that library is a game in itself, but locating it to a room rather than 'somewhere in Oxford' is pretty good. The other method is to get a librarian to do the search for you, although it's not always worth the pitying looks.

Now, imagine if that happened with the objects you lose in daily life. I frequently lose:
- My keys
- My car when it's parked
- Money (although admittedly I might just be spending it...)
- Glasses
- Anything I need in a hurry (coat, brolly, credit card, things I've borrowed from others, hairdryer, mobile)

Of these, the only thing that's easy to find it my mobile as I can ring it. Imagine if you could go to an Oxford object catalogue, type in your username and find the location of your possessions, and a list of details about each item:

Search for: Going-out coat

Results: Location: 3rd hanger from the left, back of wardrobe in spare room
Age: Too old - get a new one
Colour: Faded black
Condition: Some unsightly stains on the shoulder and second button down is loose
Bought in: Next (in the sale...tightwad)

Even better if you could do the equivalent of a stack request and collect it from an area of your choice!

No comments: