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Recommendations and Web 2.0

January 28, 2006

One of the blogs I regularly read is by Joshua Porter of UIE. I heard Joshua speak at the UI 10 conference in Boston last fall. The following is what I found to be a very interesting insight into Web 2.0 that I had missed from an entry he made in September. I ran across it today when I read a recent post he did on TV recommendations through Microsoft’s new software, Live.com.

From Joshua’s Blog entry, Tech.Memeorandum’s Filtering Illustrates Web 2.0’s Most Important Skill

Recommendation Systems and Web 2.0

The other day I wrote about movie recommendation systems and didn’t really tie it in to Web 2.0 like I wanted to. So let me try and sum up here:

Recommendation systems are the end goal of Web 2.0. They are how Web 2.0 will change the daily lives of “normal� people. It’s fun and exciting to talk about RSS and REST and semantic markup, but what we’re really after isn’t technology, it’s utility. What we’re really after is being able to see the greatest movies of all time, listen to the best music out there, and hear the most important news without having to wade through all the junk to get to it. It’s the getting rid of stuff that makes recommendation systems valuable.

Of course, the Web as Platform doesn’t filter by itself. Simply having a bunch of content from which to draw doesn’t do that much for us other than provide an exciting opportunity. With no effort in filtering we’re left with simple aggregation blogs that copy everything, word-for-word, the wheat and the chaff. With more effort in filtering we have valuable filters like tech.memeorandum that can pinpoint the important content and hide the rest. That’s why filtering is way up high in the skillset of Web 2.0.

I found this an interesting view because it points to the end goal of Web 2.0. People want a filter so they can get to the good stuff. The Web has too much information and Web 2.0 is an effort to separate the wheat from the chaff. Recommendations are a trusted way of filtering through to the good stuff based on what others have found. And the closer the relationship, the more trusted the recommendation. Which is why I think social networks is such an important feature of Web 2.0.

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