I've read all his stuff; who else would I like?
March 24, 2006 12:48 PM   Subscribe

The Literature Map. Type in an author, and it tells you who wrote similar stuff. Includes a nifty floaty effect. And you know, I never knew that Jane Austen and Socrates had so much in common.
posted by JanetLand (57 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
posted by russilwvong at 12:59 PM on March 24, 2006

I typed in V.C. Andrews, just out of morbid curiosity, and Stephen Hawkings (sic) came up in the top of the cloud. The fuck?
posted by Gator at 1:00 PM on March 24, 2006

Or that if I like Lao Tzu, then Michael Criton and Joyce Carol Oates is for me! What a crock.
posted by mrmojoflying at 1:00 PM on March 24, 2006

It seems to be a "people who liked X also liked Y, therefore X and Y are close" engine rather than a direct comparison of X and Y. Still cool!
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 1:01 PM on March 24, 2006

The closest writers to Ezra Pound is Richard Wagner? And nearby is Amy Lowell?? These are who it's "likely someone [who likes Pound] will like"? I don't think so.

And "Rovertson Davies"? Sloppy, sloppy. Nice idea, poor execution.
posted by languagehat at 1:02 PM on March 24, 2006

On seeing other people's results, I suspect it distributes the names purely at random. If so, a mildly amusing jeu d'esprit.
posted by languagehat at 1:03 PM on March 24, 2006

Okay, this is hilarious. I may have to bookmark it. I put in Thomas Harris (author of the Hannibal Lecter books, dontcha know), and it suggested, among others, J.R.R. Tolkien, Joanne K. Rowling, Dan Brown, and Edward Eager (who, in the likely event you're unfamiliar with his work, wrote children's books such as Half Magic, Seven-Day Magic, and Magic By the Lake eons ago).
posted by Gator at 1:03 PM on March 24, 2006

I typed in Jesus and it returned Morrissey.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 1:03 PM on March 24, 2006

No Kleinzahler, Palmer, or Howe.

But the John Ashbery returns made some sense.
posted by bardic at 1:07 PM on March 24, 2006

I learned that Fyodor Dostoevsky and David Sedaris have a lot in common. Hmm. I've seen a lot of sites that do this sort of thing well with music...are there any sites that make more useful connections in literature than this floaty spacey thing?
posted by kozad at 1:07 PM on March 24, 2006

If you are a fan of Dr. Seuss then you will also like Dr. Suess.
posted by jefbla at 1:08 PM on March 24, 2006

I typed in Bill Clinton and got Roger Ass.
posted by mrmojoflying at 1:08 PM on March 24, 2006

I can't seem to find anything that isn't more than two steps away from either Chuck Palanhuk or Oscar Wilde.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:08 PM on March 24, 2006

Doesn't seem too random - I put in "Strugatsky" (my favorite Russian sci-fi writers that are sadly largely unknown in the US), and I got back Disch, Heinlein, Simak, Lem, Dick, Herbert, Adams, and Asimov. It's at least giving sci-fi matches, though the connection between Strugatsky brothers and Douglas Adams is tenuous at best.
posted by Pontius Pilate at 1:08 PM on March 24, 2006

"Moses" gets you a few apostles, God, Jesus (so far so good), Huxley, Kerouac, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Anne Rice.

Mebbe I need to get a newer edition of the apocrypha.
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:16 PM on March 24, 2006

Gator writes "Edward Eager (who, in the likely event you're unfamiliar with his work, wrote children's books such as Half Magic, Seven-Day Magic, and Magic By the Lake eons ago)."

God I loved those books as a kid. So much so I re-read tehm a few years back.
posted by orthogonality at 1:18 PM on March 24, 2006

(Even better, searching for "God" gets you Hunter S. Thompson. Mind you, I'm a fan of both of their work, but I thought I was in the minority.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:18 PM on March 24, 2006

The "floaty effect" is pretty darn choppy.
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:19 PM on March 24, 2006

I put in "Italo Calvino" and I'm getting back (roughly in order of closeness): Borges, Marquez, Auster, Joyce, Eco, Kundera, Nabokov, Kafka, Dostoevski, Delillo, Haruki Murakami... On the farthest reaches I'm getting: Cortazar, Forster, Golding, Fitzgerald, Kozinski. Seems like not too bad.
posted by papakwanz at 1:21 PM on March 24, 2006

Like Shakespeare? You'll love Sylvia Plath and Aleister Crowley.

Like the Marquis de Sade? You'll love Jesus, Dr. Suess, and Byron.

Like Lewis Carroll? You'll love Orson Wells (sic), Sun Tzu, and Marilyn Manson.

posted by Gator at 1:27 PM on March 24, 2006

Ronald Reagan yields: Tom Clancy (waaay upper left), John Grisham (waaay lower left), Stephen King (waaay lower right), and clustered around the center, Dean R. Koontz, Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Theresa May, and Mary Poppins. That's it.

Definitely bookmarked.
posted by Gator at 1:36 PM on March 24, 2006

It does pretty well for Bruce Sterling, Alan Moore, and Christopher Moore.
posted by bashos_frog at 1:41 PM on March 24, 2006

Interesting. I was surprised that Proust and *shudder* St Exupery showed up so close to Witold Gombrowicz, with Kafka nowhere in sight. I like the floaty effect.
posted by OmieWise at 1:41 PM on March 24, 2006

also re: Ezra Pound/Richard Wagner - there might be a fascism thing going on there.
posted by bashos_frog at 1:42 PM on March 24, 2006

I went with Francois Rabelais, and dug the mix of novelists and theorists that came back (marx to danielewski), but I'd love to have a bit of explanation, or even just a description of the writers when I come across ones I am unfamiliar with.
posted by jrb223 at 1:44 PM on March 24, 2006

Yeah, it's "people who like X also like Y" not any sort of similarity-based tool.

It's not that bad. "gore vidal" got me "william burroughs" and "william f. buckley" on the perimeters, but then "william burroughs" had no buckley in sight.

Makes sense to me.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:46 PM on March 24, 2006

Yeah, this is some good stuff - I typed Jesus, saw Drew Carey listed (among others), clicked on Drew Carey, and was shown God, Jesus, Drew Carey, Michael Crichton, and Dave Barry.
posted by drobot at 1:50 PM on March 24, 2006

It sucks incredibly bad in Safari. It froze my browser and made my computer's fans sound like a plane taking off.
(Dual 2.3 Ghz G5, 2.5 GB RAM)
posted by kirkaracha at 1:51 PM on March 24, 2006

Well, maybe it's fine on the 20th century, and/or for genre fiction, but it sucks horseloogies when you try to get it to cover anything earlier: input Shakespeare and you get Marlowe, click on Marlowe and you get Jonson -- not great, since there are several dozen playwrights working at the same time. But not too bad.

But enter Milton and you get CS Lewis, Donald Westlake (huh?), Marguerite Yourcenar, Heidigger and Seneca. Eh?
posted by jrochest at 1:54 PM on March 24, 2006

papakwanz - I tried Calvino, too, and thought it was decent in some cases - like Lem, Perec, Mathews, and those you named but some of the very close results were weird, like Aldous Huxley and Georege Orwell are right next to Calvino, when there are definitely closer matches.

Where is the data coming from for this, and how does it get better?
posted by drobot at 1:54 PM on March 24, 2006

I think the data is coming from here (which, if I'm right, means that this thing is ripe for [probably already in-progress] abuse).
posted by Gator at 1:57 PM on March 24, 2006

Two observations:

1. This is a two-browser affair. It's definitely brought up people with whom I am not familiar, and I can't get info on them from this page. I have to have an Amazon window open at the same time.

2. I was fascinated to see that several author's heavy influences don't show up on their map. This doesn't make the map wrong - just interesting.
posted by rush at 2:05 PM on March 24, 2006

Sorry for the grammatical failure.
posted by rush at 2:06 PM on March 24, 2006

James Joyce > Nabokov, Dostoevsky, and Sedaris. heh.
posted by scody at 2:09 PM on March 24, 2006

If you like Robert Louis Stevenson you may also like Conan Doyle (yep), Conrad (yep), and Dickens (yep.) You may also like Martin Luther, St. Augustine, Pauline Kael, and Ray Kurzweil.

Well, who's to say you won't?

posted by jfuller at 2:16 PM on March 24, 2006

I never know who to read next after I suck one author dry. This is pretty cool, thanks!
posted by blendor at 2:33 PM on March 24, 2006

Michael Crighton, Michael Criton, and Michael Chricton are in serious trouble if Michael Crichton ever comes calling.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:37 PM on March 24, 2006

But enter Milton and you get CS Lewis

Christian thing going on there. Lewis wrote a lot of commentaries on Paradise Lost
posted by papakwanz at 2:41 PM on March 24, 2006

David Dukes gives you Garrison Keillor, Anne Rice, and Marquis de Sade.

Sure, sure.
posted by xmutex at 2:42 PM on March 24, 2006

err, Daivd Duke.
posted by xmutex at 2:43 PM on March 24, 2006

Heinlein yielded Ayn Rand, which made me throw up a little in my mouth.

And Ayn Rand led to Dave Barry. Somehow that makes perfect sense to me.
posted by Gamblor at 2:47 PM on March 24, 2006

The Vonnegut results were respectable, but I see a lot of names in the cloud that others have got in their results. And, of course, the ubiquitous Wr Wilde has as *his* cloud a great deal of the good stuff of the 20th century.
posted by Sparx at 2:56 PM on March 24, 2006

worked well for me. put in haruki murakami, and got back a list that included jonathan lethem, china mieville, chabon, pynchon, roth, vonnegut, eggers, and auster - all writers I like. There are a few new ones in there that I'll have to check out - leon de winter (?), rohinton mistry, julio cortazar, etc.

a neat idea!
posted by luriete at 3:14 PM on March 24, 2006

how weird--James Frey comes up for Saramago (the other ones were good tho)

luriete--you must read A Fine Balance by Mistry--unbelievably great and powerful book
posted by amberglow at 3:24 PM on March 24, 2006

Yes, this is a really old and fairly primitive recommendation engine, and seems to have more than a few typos thanks to user input.

I've always kind of liked gnooks and gnoosic, the whole gnod universe (which has been around for years -- at least 2002). I like the enter-three-artists, get-one, click, get-one etc. model well enough.

The music engine seems to have a lot more data, which probably increases its overall accuracy.

I've never really liked the floaty network interface, though -- the names never stop moving, and you can't navigate very well through it in a meaningful way. LivePlasma has a much better UI for those who want to use this approach.
posted by dhartung at 3:43 PM on March 24, 2006

"Karl Capek is not yet available"
posted by soiled cowboy at 3:51 PM on March 24, 2006

And god help you if you click on the names and read the vapid "message board" contents ... Salman Rushdie is a minefield of idiocy.
posted by mykescipark at 4:37 PM on March 24, 2006

"Karl Capek is not yet available"

Neither is Todd Brendan Fahey, and he gets 200 times more Google hits.

And your point is ...
posted by mrgrimm at 5:20 PM on March 24, 2006

Cute, but when i typed in Harry Harrison, it yielded Neal Stevenson. i'm guessing that they meant Neal Stephenson, but that mistake alone tainted the experience for me.

i guess i'm just crabby.
posted by quin at 5:44 PM on March 24, 2006

George Orwell appears closest to Kurt Vonnegut? Pshaw. This is clearly arse. Next.
posted by Decani at 6:05 PM on March 24, 2006

blendor, I never know who to read next after I suck one author dry.

Yes, I'm like that too and love the Literature Map. The parent site, gnod, also has a movie map, gnoovies, which is equally entertaining and informative, as well as flork, for meeting people.

Does anyone here know what this Literature Map technique is called, for culling a person's likes and making predictions based on that? Is it called cybermapping or what?
posted by nickyskye at 8:49 PM on March 24, 2006

Includes a nifty floaty effect.

I didn't find it nifty; I found it nonfunctional. The closeness of the names often obscured what the damn names were, and, moreover, if the distance between names is a function of how alike they are, and the distance is constantly changing, then what the hell does that mean? Is Neal Stephenson right now saying, "I'm going to have a pizza for lunch," and when Stephen King says, "I'm having Chinese"?
posted by WCityMike at 11:08 AM on March 25, 2006

Ah whatever it's not perfect (the name mispellings are especially annoying as they create different profiles for the same author see Graham Greene and Graham Green).

I enjoyed it. Just needs a little tweaking.
posted by Skygazer at 11:11 AM on March 25, 2006

On second thought maybe it needs a lot of tweaking.... The best writer there ever was (Walker Percy of course!) get's a pretty crappy Map. I mean c'mon...where the hell is Richard Ford and Andre Dubus and john Kennedy Toole...John Kennedy Tool fer chrissakes!!? (This map is obviously the "Levy Pants" of web apps).

Also who would guess the drummer for RUSH was a literary lion?

Now I have Limelight stuck in my head dammit.
posted by Skygazer at 11:41 AM on March 25, 2006

I think I prefer the somewhat less flashy and flaunty version at What Should I Read Next.
posted by amestoy at 12:26 PM on March 25, 2006

People who bought Jesus also bought Paulus, David Duke and God.
posted by Citizen Premier at 10:32 PM on March 25, 2006

This is crap, sorry. I typed in P.G. Wodehouse and nowhere was Douglas Adams. But there was P. G. Wodehouse (with a space) which gave me a whole different set of results. Bleah.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:33 AM on March 26, 2006

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