Ayn Rand : Terry Pratchett :: Matter : Anti-Matter


Huh. Via J. Bradford Delong, apparently LibraryThing has created an UnSuggester, which examines the book collections of LibraryThing members and determines, based on a given book, the books least likely to be found in the same collection. Thus, if you own Book A, you're incredibly unlikely to also own Book B.

Delong discovered that if you own a copy of Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand then according to LibraryThing the book you are least likely also to own is Where's my Cow? by Terry Pratchett. This result surprises me just a little, because if you had asked me before hand I would have thought that there would be a loose correlation between Ayn Rand fandom and Terry Pratchett fandom. I associated Ayn Rand fannishness with a certain strain of high-tech internet libertarianism, which in turn I tend to think correlates with geekishness. Similarly, I tend to think Pratchett fandom correlates with a certain strain of nerdery. Therefore, I would think that there would be a decent number of fans both of Pratchett and of Ayn Rand, simply by dint of shared dorkitude. Nonetheless, if LibraryThing is accurate, not only does a positive correlation not exist but there's actually a negative correlation.

I would assume at least part of this can be explained by failures on LibraryThing's part; not a large enough sample, flawed methodology, etc. Still, though, I'm sure there are at least some Pratchett fans that will be happy to know of their repugnance to Ayn Rand people. And vice versa, apparently.

Also, people who like the absurd, rambling, discursive, proto-Douglas Adams stylings of Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat are also highly unlikely to enjoy the offbeat witiness of the poems of Shel Silverstein. This makes me somewhat more dubious about LibraryThing's results.


Because I have The Picture of Dorian Gray in my collection, I do not have Junie B. Jones: First Grader.

apparently, since i own Watership Down, i do not own anything remotely religious...huh

Most things that I own indicate that I do not own any books about evangelical Christianity, which is correct. A few also indicate that I do not own any books about Islam, which prompted me to enter my introduction to the Arabic alphabet and find that I do not own The Bell Jar, Anne of Green Gables, Unfortunate Events #2-5, Going Postal, Little Women, A Scanner Darkly, Harry Potter #2-4, The Monstrous Regiment, or Orlando... all of which I could have sworn that I've seen on my bookshelf at some point. To be fair, I didn't like Orlando that much, but now I'm actually wondering if, given all the misses on this particular list, I should read it again and see if I like it any better.

Huh. I wonder if that isn't a small sample size problem, like if ten people own the introduction to the Arabic alphabet and none of them happen to be fantasy fans.

The interesting thing about the UnSuggester, to my way of thinking, is that it can help to prevent too much orthodoxy in your reading habits. If all of your books say that you probably don't own books of type X, and you don't, in fact, own any books of type X, maybe that's a sign that you ought to give type X a try, just to make sure you're not staying too intellectually cloistered.

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This page contains a single entry by Zach published on December 8, 2006 1:18 PM.

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