who the hell am i to tell me what i like?

Amazon, Pandora, TiVo, iTunes, Last.fm, Google Reader, the list goes on. Personalized recomendation services are a hit and for good reason. There's so much utter rubbish out there to be ploughed through it's just too much for even the most obsessive datarats among us to handle on our own. We need machine assistance to help us sift and sort to find those tasty nuggets we crave so badly.

But the trend has been to assume that we already know what we like and that we should simply have more like it. The much discussed APML is evidence that this line of thinking is still mainstream. The only way to adjust the settings of the suggestion engines in any of these systems is to allow them to profile you as you interact with them. But what if what you're interested in today doesn't directly relate to what you've been paying attention to in the past? How can you still make use of that attention information while actively directing future suggestions?

This sounds like a job for a Real World Scenario!

I'd never heard of bluegrass music until I was nearly done highschool. So I hit the net, scrounged (napster'd at the time) up some MP3's and had a listen. It was terrible. I discovered that I pretty much hate bluegrass. But let's say something like Last.fm was around then and it already had a nice APML like profile of what I had been listening to. If I were able to manipulate my attention profile by editing key concepts as tags and their attention values as sliders I could add a bluegrass tag, slide it up to maybe 50% and let the suggestion engine do it's job.

The end result would be somewhere between a saved search (or smart folder / playlist) and a profiled suggestion. I get all the benefits of cross referencing my recorded tastes with those of the Last.fm masses but with some added direction over where it takes me. Maybe if I'd listened to the kind of bluegrass tunes that other Tea Party, Weezer, and Cranberries fans had been listening to I might have loved it ...


Now where'd I really love to see this functionality is in my news reader. Let's say I get it in my head that I want to read more about the 2008 Olympics. I haven't been reading many items in my news reader related to the topic, but if I were looking for feeds on the subject I'd likely be more interested in stories that relate to both the Olympics and Canada, which does come up often in my news reader. Those feeds that cross over could then be suggested first. Guided+Profiled personalized suggestions.

Finally once a facility was in place for something like this, I could see much use in creating "APML bookmarks" for collections of feeds (OPML). In this way I could have all my feeds together, but browse them under say the "Politics", or "Tech" attention profiles as needed. All the while each "bookmark" would grow on its own as it profiled me, but I could also be directing it as I went along.

Do you hear me intertoobs!? I need more control over where I'm spending my paltry attention budget.


preparing for the inevitable zombie menace

Sure you know it and I know it, even if we don't like to admit it. The armies of the undead won't care if you're having a bad day, or you've got a cold, or a hangover, or a really hectic day ahead of you. When the dead walk the earth you'd best count yourself among the prepared or you'll soon count yourself among the shuffling hordes.

Having recently picked up the tabletop game Zombies!!! for my brothers birthday I've been on full watch while traveling the cities subways, and side streets. With zombies on the brain you'd think I'd have found this detailed Zombies In Plain English introductory guide ages ago, but I just happened on it this morning. If only the poor zombified souls who now lust for brains and human flesh had watched this video, we might not have to cleave them to bits today!

Having seen the harrowing truth, you may wish to outfit your home with some of the anti-zombie technologies which have become available. A fully guaranteed zombie alarm perhaps? Or for the more hands on survivors among you maybe one of the many full out zombie survival kits?

At the very least as a proud member of the living you must keep yourself informed and maintain a constant state of readiness. As the author of The Zombie Survival Guide says, "Organize before they rise". Some printed information cards from this Emergency Zombie Defense Station could be vital if stored in a glove box, near the garden tools, or posted clearly near your childrens rooms. Remember, an uninformed child might well be a zombie child.