Reading & Literacy

Web App Recommends Books Based on Tweets

By Amy Wickner — January 15, 2013 1 min read

Guest blogger Briana Boyington contributed this post.

If you enjoy following book blogs, like this one, then it’s safe to assume that you’re always in the market for a good read. Wouldn’t it be great if someone could figure out how to tell you exactly what you’d like to read based on the things that you tweet about the most?

Enter BookRX.

It’s a Web app that makes books suggestions for you by analyzing who you follow and the words (and hashtags) you tweet, and then compares those findings with terms that are aligned with common book categories. Insert your (or any) Twitter handle and the app will spit out book recommendations in the categories of politics and social sciences, sports and fitness, business, humor, and science fiction and fantasy.

The app, released in late December, was created by Northwestern University doctoral student Shawn O’Banion and associate professor Larry Birnbaum at the school’s Knight Lab.

I tested BookRX on the Education Week Commentary account, which I manage, to see if BookRX could accurately provide suggestions that match the interest and voice of @EdweekComm.

The app did a decent job at choosing words that we commonly use, like literacy and standards, as the basis for its title search, but since BookRX doesn’t contextualize the focus of a Twitter account, the recommendations were random. Hashtags like #innovation, #standards, and #edreform prompted books on marketing and building a strong Web presence, but none of the book recommendations was specific to K-12 education.

So why mention BookRX? Because it’s fun and the concept is great. The creators are planning to fine tune the app in order to improve its accuracy and range for suggested titles. You can read their Huffington Post Q&A chat to learn more about their plans.

I think it’s worth keeping an eye out for BookRX. It may become a useful tool for educators who use their Twitter accounts professionally. Or, who knows, perhaps you’ll find the BookRX’s suggestions match your interest now. In either case, try the app and let us know what you think.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the BookMarks blog.