Thursday, June 23, 2005

Long Tail

Quote from The Long Tail blog. It's all about using referrer networks and working out good "recommendations" (eg. per Amazon product pages) based on other peoples tastes, p2p networks are related too by their nature. Very thought provoking.

The problem with social software as a recommendation network has its roots in the problem of social software itself. "Friend" is a pretty blunt instrument when it comes to describing relationships, especially in matters of taste. The sad reality is that most of my friends have rotten taste in music (I don't hold it against them), while the music recommendations I actually follow are mostly from people I've never met, be they Rhapsody editors or MP3 blogs. Same for virtually every other narrow category where I need advice; odds are that the real subject matter experts aren't anyone I know. In other words, the assumption that there's a correlation between the people I like and the products I like is a flawed one. To use an analogy, Bill Joy, the co-founder of Sun Microsystems, famously uttered this truism (now known as Joy's Law): "No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else." The same might be said of recommendations. No matter who you are, someone you don't know has found the coolest stuff. Compounding the problem, the people whose recommendations I trust in music are different from those whose recommendations I trust in movies. Gadgets are yet another group of mavens, as are games and books. Indeed, although I have dozens of "trust networks" (usually formed by reputation and experience, not personal relationships), most of them have nothing in common with each other, and almost none of them I consider friends. Some of them aren't even human--they're software. In a sense, you can think of all your filters as being part of orthogonal trust networks, often with the only common member being yourself. They rarely, if ever, overlap. Thus any service that tries to condense all of your different planes of influence into a single dimension is going to fail, at least as far as useful recommendations go. That isn't to say that such services shouldn't offer playlist sharing and Amazon wishlists, only that I'm likely to find better advice elsewhere.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Cars, Parties, Job, Dates

Wow it's been a while since I last wrote.

Done an awful lot - maybe that's why I haven't got round to posting, having been so busy. My life is definitely taking a turn for the better: my car is finally back on the road again (yahoo!) - originally with the intention of selling it, assuming I couldn't get any more computing work, but it's worked out I don't need to now; I've had a date recently with someone I met from a dating website that went well and 2nd date is this weekend (plus lots of fun chatting online in the evenings); the job thing is sorted; and I've been to a great party recently too.

The last two weeks at work have just been really hectic - with end-of-the-month time and a bank holiday weekend to boot. I've done more than the equivalent of a full-time week and all that while trying to arrange car insurance, it's servicing/work on it (ouch... new clutch, flywheel, 4 new tyres, ...), and catch up with other important things.

It's all beginning to look quite rosy in fact. Like it! More details on everything later, as it all progresses if appropriate. I'm too busy to write more now!