Over the last few years, Google Arts & Culture has been launching a series of “experiments” that allow us to interact with all kinds of works from the comfort of our home.
A new experiment, dubbed ‘An Ocean of Books’ (an ocean of books), invites us to browse hundreds of thousands of works, in which “each island represents an author and each city represents a book.”
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Islands, cities and hundreds of thousands of books
It is a kind of Google Earth for lovers of literature, and its creators claim that it is “a poetic experiment in which we hope you get lost for a while. ”
The design of this website is one of its strengths, as it reminds of old cartographic maps. When we begin to Explore this literary world map, we will see that it is divided by different continents:
- Arts and entertainment
- Religion and beliefs
When we approach or click on each of these large groups we will see a series of light colored dots. These are the islands of each author, and if we continue zooming in on each of them we will see their main cities (plays).
It’s great that they look like real islands, being able to admire the relief of each one of them. Another very important aspect is that next to it we will see other nearby islands (authors), something that is ideal if we are looking for works similar to some of our favorites.
“Each of the map authors are not positioned randomly, or by hand. We have calculated the distance between each one of them, based on their complex relationship in the network. From these values, we generate two-dimensional positions for all authors , thanks to a machine learning technique called Multiple Uniform Approximation and Projection (UMAP). Finally, an island was assigned to each author, matching the size of the island with the presence of the author on the web. “
If we click on any of the works, a kind of parchment will open on the side, with a short synopsis (in English) of that book. At the bottom of the web we will find a search engine, in which you can enter both authors and the name of the books.
The creators of this gigantic website are right, since I have ended up lost in a sea of authors and works, and It is the typical website that is worth saving in favorites to visit her from time to time.