Monday, May 10, 2004

Interview with Craig Silverstein from Google

Interesting interview with Craig Silverstein from Google. A brief discussion of personalization:
    Q: There are some personalisation tools emerging. Amazon's and MSN are using different techniques. Google's tool is a little bit more like, "Give us information, and we will help you out," and the others take the approach, "We will learn from you, and then we will help you out." Tell me why your approach is superior.
    A: In the latter scenario, where first you learn, and then you help the visitor out, you have two places where the computer has to make intelligent judgments. I am not saying that is not an interesting or promising approach, but it does put more strain on the computer. When you tell it what your interests are, then the computer only has to be intelligent to use that information to try to help you out. They are both part of the same goal of trying to help people out with personal information -- it is just a matter of how you get there. We will be seeing more of this in the future.
Craig is an incredibly sharp guy, but I think he's missing a key issue here. When you rely on people to tell you want their interests are, they (1) usually won't bother, (2) if they do bother, they often provide partial information or even lie, and (3) even if they bother, tell the truth, and provide complete information, they usually fail to update their information over time.

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