cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Profound Whatever

One of my long time favorite web site references is the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), not only because of its comprehensive depth and breadth of information about movies and TV shows, but also because it is rich in data- you can go from a movie summary to follow the works of its director or lead actors, via hyperlinks. It is the site I reach to for learning about or making links to movies.

And IMDb now has a new feature I really like- lists you can make and share.

But before that, a little more honor about IMDb- I can recall coming across it from my earliest web days in 1993- it is one of the oldest reference web sites I can think of- way before Wikipedia, way before search engines. In fact, it celebrated its 20th birthday last year, and cites its origin as pre-web (1990):

The lists that continue to be the backbone of the Internet Movie Database existed before October 17,1990… They were originally collected and maintained by a hearty group of movie fans who frequented a Usenet group (a text bulletin board) called “rec.arts.movies.” The lists included the credits for actors, actresses, and directors, as well as biographical entries for moviemakers who had passed on (known back then as “the ‘dead’ list”). But we mark the date because on October 17th, our founder, Col Needham, wrote a series of Unix shell scripts which made these lists searchable. The ability to search existing data is one of the key components of the Web experience, and it immediately made the lists more meaningful and useful. Though the new name was still six years off, the Internet Movie Database was, in essence, born.

And IMDb has not slowed down since, adding more user generated content (reviews and forums) as well as the handy mobile apps (so you can settle arguments at the theater or coffee shop). What I had forgotten was that in the late 1990s IMDb was bought by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, but they have a relatively low profile there, beyond the links to buy movies.

Ok, back to lists. I was tweeting tonight about my possible movie topic for the ds106 video essay assignment — and people were suggesting movies of a similar genre, so where else would I turn besides IMDb? I started bookmarking movies in my browser (old school), until I noticed that IMDb had a new “Add to Watchlist” button- now that makes total sense.

New feature at IMDb!

And by some luck or action action, I already had an IMBd account, so I was able to login and start adding movies to a watch list. The other piece I noticed here was hovering over the movie box icons, I got summary info, and links to buy, or in this case, watch on Demand from Amazon (something I get with my Amazon Prime account for free, woot, thanks Jeff!)

Movie on IMDb Watchlist that I can see on Amazon Instant Video

I thought I saw a way to share a Watchlist via twitter/facebook, but cannot find a shareable URL, and now it is saying my lis is private. Oh well.

But there is more you can do- you can create other lists of movies on IMDb- so people are making lists of their favorites or collections of best comedies or worst horror movies, but I was thinking, there is something people can do related to ds106 -like as we move into the video, the movies they have watched for influence or ones they are using for projects– so I started my own ds106 one for movies related to projects I have done – this is a list you can make public and share via URL:

My ds106 IMDb list of movies

Or one could make assignments where people have to build lists of movies according to a theme or… well, I’m just starting the idea machine. But the ideas for lists are compelling.

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

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