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unsuggester

February 2, 2009

one of the joys of the internet now is the massive growth of recommendations functions – “people who liked this, also liked this”. It’s led to me so many new things I may never have uncovered had I not been able to tap into other people’s tastes in music, books, TV and blogs.

But I came across a lovely piece in the papers at the weekend highlighting the Unsuggester service – a library service that turns up books that are least likely to be associated with the title you type in. Super stuff.

Of course, there’s a theory behind it. The psychologist Henry Allport argued back in the 1950s that contact between different groups was key to breeding understanding, which in turn was key to reducing conflict. Sometimes it’s surely good for us to follow unexpected leads and to engage with stuff beyond our usual sphere of influence. So here’s to the Unsuggester service growing more. I could do with some new music.

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One comment

  1. But Robert Putnam reckons that contact theory doesn’t work – instead, contact between groups can lead to ‘hunkering down’, which means we all go home and watch TV rather than either getting along or conflicting.

    Which suggests that unsuggester is going to make me really antisocial.

    Let’s find out…



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