John C. Kirk (johnckirk) wrote,
John C. Kirk
johnckirk

DVDs

I've been thinking recently about the logistics of lending DVDs between friends. It's not too hard to keep track of what I've actually lent out (I use a single Word document for books/comics/DVDs/whatever), but it's more tricky to know what DVDs other people have that I might want to watch or to keep other people informed about what I have without spamming everyone with huge emails. I saw someone set up a wiki for this a couple of years ago, but that didn't work very well; I think it worths better in a structured database. Ideally, you want everyone to store their info centrally, although that may be difficult with big lists. For instance, I've heard people praising LibraryThing, but I'm not realistically going to type 700 books into a new system, and then keep two databases up to date. (That's even more of a challenge for my comic collection.) I think there may be a way around this, using something like a web service, where the central site would connect to individual databases on separate servers to query them, but I'm not sure whether there are any clear standards for that yet.

Anyway, coming back to DVDs, I don't have a huge number of them, so it wouldn't be too hard to retype them all somewhere else. I did think about creating my own website (linking to a back-end database) for this, but I figured I should have a look around for an existing site first, rather than re-inventing the wheel (particularly if I want other people to enter their data). I found DVDLender, which looks pretty good: the idea is that you can belong to multiple "gangs", and only people in the same gang as you can see what you've got. This means that I can have different gangs for different circles of friends, without needing any transitive relations between them. You can then search for a DVD, it will show you everyone who has a copy, and you can click a button to ask to borrow it.

It's a free site, and seems to have been set up out of genuine goodwill, rather than as a money-making scheme. (They get commission from Amazon sales, but that's all.) Having said that, I'm not sure how much it's maintained, and from a technical point of view I can see several areas for improvement; also, the DVDs I've picked at random from my own collection aren't in their central list yet, so it will take a bit longer to add them. Still, I think it's worth playing with, so "if you wanna be in my gang" then just let me know. Alternately, if you know of any better sites elsewhere, I'd be interested to hear about them too.

Meanwhile, speaking of videos, here are a couple of good YouTube clips that I saw on Peter David's blog recently:

* March of the Emperor - very funny.
* Pandas - quite cute, although you'll need to have sound turned on to get the full effect.

Edit: PaperbackSwap seems to work on a similar principle, although it's only for the US, and arranges donations between strangers rather than temporary loans between friends.
Tags: books, films
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