Carmun.com: Social Search Goes Vertical
Jeffrey Rayport and I had breakfast last Friday with his former colleague Lori Cohen and Jonathan Edson, a former AOL business development executive who is founder and CEO of Carmun.com. Carmun is (my words) "social citation search", principally for academics, but also for anyone trying to find (good) books or journal articles on a topic (like school kids and college students).
Carmun helps you find good materials on your subject by crawling the Library of Congress index, and parsing out citations from footnotes and bibliographies into a structured data format (is there an RSS extension that makes sense here?). Search is "social" in that it relies on ratings by users to help filter results. Next, Carmun allows you to create folders that contains the citations associated with your projects. Once you've added all relevant citations to a project, you can download a complete, properly formatted bibliography to include in your scholarly work. Beyond an individual's project folders, Carmun also supports setting up groups within which people can collaborate around projects with conventional tools like a calendar and a blog, to which members can subscribe via email alerts.
I like this service, which is currently in beta. It seems to me like a really good example of an application that follows structured collaboration principles: citations are valuable things to share, especially within properly-defined project-oriented groups. My only suggestion is that to improve usability, it might reorder the major boxes on the home page so that research is leftmost and community is rightmost. This would help folks like me get the natural flow of using the service a lot better. Past this point, I found it all pretty intuitive.
Good luck Lori and Jonathan! (And thanks to J.B. Lyon for introducing me originally.)