dog.jpg

Pic via agiledogs
 
One of the things that frustrates me about recomemndation engines, but particulaly last.fm is how bad they can be. How the slightly off-kilter recommendations are magnified a thousand times.  Part of this magnification is I believe because of the fact that we’ve become atuned to believing that the software is somehow “automagic”.

Whenever I speak to people about last.fm the general feedback is “yeah, but it’s quite patchy”. The algorithm is always to blame, or the underlying music data (and publishers they’ve got on board) but rarely the user.  During a conversation last week with Tom it struck me that the experience of presenting relevant music should feel far more involved than it is, in other words the emphasis on training the software to perform better for you should be more central to the experience (and not reserved for technical criticism). You get the music you deserve.  This has all sorts of potential gains too.  I mean you can start to record how active you are at training and report back how well the dog software is performing by seeing how many times you *love* a track and how often you skip.  in order to make this work you need to show what success looks like.  If you go to dog training you know you get a good dog, a dog that behaves (i.e. it does what is expected and / or what you want).  For last.fm you could to present back:

1. “just discovered <blah track> ” -> i.e. trial -> recommendation

2. purchases in the last <time period>. Purchases being a good proxy for how well the service is delivering trial -> conversion

The current recommendation system doesn’t work effectively because it’s based on an un-selfish act.  The act of recommendation is conciously, thoughtfully delievered and potentially comes with lots of baggage like wanting to be seen to be cool.

And we can perhaps learn another thing from training dogs.  People take puppies to be trained.  However, a lot of people take dogs that need remedial training.  Lazy dogs (and even lazier owners) who need a quick fix. Last.fm could perhaps provide that quick fix.  This could be a ‘remedial’ training of the software.  I can’t be arsed to play 100 Fall tracks to weight my music playback in a certain direction.  And I want to ban mediocre guitar bands for ever, so no Elbow please. You know, quick fixes. This then represents a scale of emotions and different user neeeds, but more importantly it puts the onus back onto the user which as a piece of social software makes the service potentially all the more interesting.

I got a Quechup invite yesterday from someone I know vaguely and thought I’d go and take a look.  Amongst the plethora of social networking sites springing up this might have something I could learn from or indeed have a proposition of some worth, beyond collating the detritus of my "going-about-the-world" as  some added value.  It doesn’t.  It’s merely a geographical layer on that detritus and moreover it’s demanding of you to add value rather than collating it for you.  So imagine my disappointment when upon opening my inbox this morning I find that I’ve invited all of my Gmail contacts to his charlatan’s service. Of course "I" didn’t, but Quechup did even though I "skipped" the step to invite others.  This is a cardinal sin.  My Gmail contacts range far and wide, some I know some I don’t but have been in contact with for work or well, other social network things :o But the etiquette of social networking is so acute that I feel annoyed some service has slighted my own identity, my relationship with others.  Shame.  I’ll never use it again.

I’m tiring of social networking and social media in general, the Publicness of it, not the performing because that becomes second nature, but the very exposure makes me value the boundaries of Privacy and the personal all the more. Surely, any social network should build on relationships that pertain to the ‘service’ or the ‘proposition’ that your service supports and allows you to build up from there, exploring new contacts from what the service provides – travel, crafting, hacking, even GTD amongst project contacts etc. Not doing so reduces all relationships to a base exchange and conflates the qualities that make them relationships at all.

So, if you’ve received an invite from me, sorry.  Kick Quechup.

Folksy_large_logo
What started as a hobby and actually has remained pretty much a hobby gets closer to life.


james boardwell, originally uploaded by russelldavies.

Du Pont from the 60s still with its original sticky backing.  2 rolls came yesterday courtesy of the excellent Superbuzzy. Odd to think that this stuff was stored for 40 yrs.  Kennedy was being shot the last time this stuff was being used. 
Wallpaper

A shiny new rattle in a less shiny new office.

Office

The site ain’t right yet but it’s getting there [thanks Paul].  And the offices are super good.  Come visit!


knitting moleskines, originally uploaded by erinscissorhands.

Nice range of recycled notebooks from erinscissorhands. The idea of notebooks as embodying greater permanence in a digital age is at odds with the tech discourse which is about indelible zero’s and one’s. But it’s definitely emerging as a practice evidenced by demand for moleskin type notebooks. As information gets cheaper, our own handcrafted books and knitted words gain greater value perhaps because of their limited transferability?


QR-ed hash brown, originally uploaded by superlocal.

Superlocal finds another piece of Asian goodness, this time in the unlikely [Western] setting of McDonald’s. A QR badge to show fat content!

But surely it’s a post rational design thought, an indulgence which would perhaps get people talking rather than something to inform decision making…?

There are heap of video playouts now.  What I quite like about Hellodeo.com is that it takes the idea of presence further than its peers by hooking into your AV straight away and recording.  It’s a [all too] simple process. And judging from the featured material on the site it produces quite unreflexive, more immediate encounters with fellow global citizens.  This is a mirror.  <Hello foreign man singing>. And it’s all so refreshingly basic which won’t help when it comes to create data that’s social but it makes for a far more pleasant visual experience.  Is anyone else tired of web2.0 publishing ‘features’?  When do these ‘features’ become pretty lame marketing gizmo’s? I mean I understand the appeal of embedding metadata in the web around an object but I also understand the egotistical affordance of button-mania, like badges on the laptop of a die-hard loser.  Like the Groucho Marx quote, being a member of a club that would have me [and the rest of the world] as a member isn’t that enticing.