Mapping ‘Interestingness’ – It’s a time thing
November 13, 2006
There’s nothing particularly interesting about gold – but it does tend to keep it’s value over time.
What does seem to be gaining in value is ‘interestingness’: Millions of Blogs, Tagged Media and Social Networks it seems that the aggregation of time based activity is becoming the the commodity to invest in.
What these three investments suffer from is time: Time to generate content, relationships and ultimately enough statistics to make sense to the next generation of software development after web2.0. And now there is a scramble to get enough far enough underground into the lives of the audience to mine the depths of interestingness.
Google have been on this since their humble beginnings with the page rank system. Now Yahoo! has made a grab for the Interestingness through the patient office. Flickr has been using this concept for sometime and it’s a fastinating way to ‘see’ what the audience is drawn to.
If you do a word search for ‘time’ in the patent, you see how dependant the system is on the duration between user activity. Space/Location is of less value, for example:-
 Another score component may take time into account. For example, the system designer may set up the score computation to decrement the thus-far accumulated score by a predetermined percentage over time starting at the time the media object was posted. For example, this time decay may cause the score to decrement by 2% per day from the day of posting. This and other means may be employed to prevent the occurrence of “positive feedback loops” where the sorting of media objects by interestingness itself skews the results, causing those same media objects to be more frequently accessed, thereby unnaturally increasing their interestingness scores.
In the same week Flickr Maps is rolled out to ramp up interest in Geo-Tagging. Again – fascinating to see the world according to photos, but the larger scheme of value to Yahoo! (Flickr’s owner) is the pattern of usage, not media aggregation.
Russell posted a couple of assumptions about Interestingness, and a 10 point guide to ‘How to be Interesting.’ It’s very good and the comments (as usual) really really good. He’s promised that if anyone follows his 10 point guide for three months he’ll senf you a ‘I’m More Interesting Than I Was Three Months Ago’ certificate.
The difference between Yahoo!’s attempt to capitalise upon the patterns of interest (btw: here’s another Yahoo! patient for tagging) and Russell’s encouragement for inspiration is one of confusing your own habits over time by constantly challenging and surprising yourself. This is the way of the artist. The Yahoo patents tries to embody this, but with no pursuit of finding what is interesting on that there is interest.
As ever – Google is building an intent based algorithmic recognition system whilst Yahoo! is relying on the collaboration of editorial media to understand intent, but there’s no cheating the clock on building enough information to make these systems become the Operating System for the Web.
But what exactly does time give us? Maturity of thinking, depth and breadth in imagination, referential examples as proof of things did exist? This is a trickier one to answer than ‘what is Google’s business model’, so I’ll leave this for Mike to show the wonders of time in one of time lapse movies. (There’s a whole load of time lapse movies on his youtube channel – go see..)