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Building Shepherd - Feedback on new features?

Shepherd is reimagining book discovery online. So less like buying toothpaste and more a magical fun experience that readers deserve.

Summary: April 18th to April 29th 2022
Want to give me feedback on new features?
I set up a group here for readers and authors to join if they want to give me feedback on new features as I build them.
How much time does it take?
  • Just 10 to 15 minutes every 2 months.
  • There are rare situations where it might be longer, but you would just ignore them if you are not interested.
Improving the topic engine logic...
Background: The topic engine analyzes each book an author recommends and assigns it different topics based on that data. Those topics are then used to power the upcoming recommendation engine, search, and bookshelves.
What are we doing?
We’ve been working to improve this system and realized we need to redo the logic of the system. That is going to take some additional time but it is worth it. It will simplify the system while giving us the ability to “easily” add additional data sources down the road.
Simplification is also key in keeping Ben and Marton sane :). I view simplification like this scene in Peter Pan, every time you simplify a developer and the project owner come back to life.
Right now we have 3 pools of data we use to assign topics to a book.
  1. NLP Pool - Machine generated.
  2. Admin Pool - When I add/change something (human curation).
The changes we are implementing over the coming weeks will add a new pool using data from the Library of Congress (not available for all books). And, we are going to vastly improve the logic of how it all works.
What will the end result be?
  1. More accurate topics for each book. This system runs the bookshelves which means they will get even more accurate.
  2. And, the new recommendation system we are launching soon will use this data as well, so that will be more accurate.
  3. Plus, the system is being simplified which means less upkeep for us behind the scenes.
Check out the improved bookshelf page!
The designer and I have been working to improve the UI/UX of the bookshelf page and this is 95% done. We wanted to bring more attention to who was making the recommendation and why they are a good person to listen to, as well as show off who they are and their book (plus some other tweaks).
Mockup of the update to the bookshelf page which is coming very soon.
Mockup of the update to the bookshelf page which is coming very soon.
What else am I working on?
I’ve got about 1,000 bookshelves that are pending publishing, I need to go through each one to make sure it is a good page for readers/authors or delete it. And I have about 16,000 topics to go through and check to make sure it is a useful topic for our system.
Both of these are going to take a while, but I aiming to have both in a good place by the end of May. We shall see :)
What is going on outside of Shepherd?
We had a relaxed stay in Graz Austria and we are all feeling more rested. Graz is a stunning city and we loved it. We are now hanging out near the beach for a month and just chilling.
Bike ride near Graz
Bike ride near Graz
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Ben Fox

Follow along as I build the Shepherd book discovery platform (updates every 2 weeks).

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