Monday, January 23, 2006
Like This? You'll Hate That
Cool graphic from NYT on rec engines
click for larger graph
courtesy of NYT
"The most reliable prediction for how much a customer will like a movie is what they thought of other movies," Mr. Hunt said. The company credits the system's ability to make automated yet accurate recommendations as a major factor in its growth from 600,000 subscribers in 2002 to nearly 4 million today.
Similarly, Apple's iTunes online music store features a system of recommending new music as a way of increasing customers' attachment to the site and, presumably, their purchases. Recommendation engines, which grew out of the technology used to serve up personalized ads on Web sites, now typically involve some level of "collaborative filtering" to tailor data automatically to individuals or groups of users.
Some engines use information provided directly by the shopper, while others rely more on assumptions, like offering a matching shirt to a shopper interested in purchasing a tie. And some sites are now taking personalization to another level by improving not only the collection of data but the presentation of it.
Liveplasma.com, an online site for music and, more recently, movies, graphically "maps" shoppers' potential interests. A search for music by Coldplay, for example, brings up a graphical representation of what previous customers of Coldplay music have purchased, presented in clusters of circles of various sizes.
The bigger the circle, the greater the popularity of that band. The circles are clustered into orbits representing groups of customers with similar preferences.
"This is a way of showing recommendations that are vastly more useful than textual links," said Whit Andrews, a research vice president at Gartner Inc., a market research company in Stamford, Conn.
Another development under way is matching customer tastes across Web businesses, using knowledge of a customer's tastes in music to try to sell them books, for example. "To date, that's been largely uncharted territory," Mr. Andrews said, though not for lack of trying. Web sites have long tried to develop systems for cross-selling among companies that protect customer privacy but also allow sharing of data."
Like This? You'll Hate That. (Not All Web Recommendations Are Welcome.)
By LAURIE J. FLYNN
NYT, January 23, 2006
2 for Phillip K. Dick fans
First, a podcast: Benjamen Walker talks with authors Jonathan Lethem and Josh Glenn about the Science Fiction genius Philip K Dick.
Second, an R. Crumb comic on The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick
click for comic
Sunday, January 22, 2006
Keyra II: Electric Bootyloo
What compels a college girl to film herself doing this?
I don't know, but I would imagine millions of college boys would like to say "Thank you!"
Saturday, January 21, 2006
How cool is this: Giant Jellyfish Invade Japan
"Since last summer, Japanese waters have been inundated with the massive sea creatures, which can grow 6.5 feet (2 meters) wide and weigh up to 450 pounds (220 kilograms).
Though the jellyfish are more common in Chinese and Korean waters, their numbers have grown a hundredfold in some areas off Japan, causing a crisis in the local fishing industry."
Giant Jellyfish Invade Japan
Blake de Pastino
National Geographic Society, January 19, 2006 http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/01/0119_060119_jellyfish.html
Martin D-45 Guitar
The weekend WSJ has an article about the Martin D-45 Guitar:
The pearl trim on an heirloom Martin may be tremendously labor intensive, but the payoff is stunning. With Mr. Henderson's D-45 on your lap, it's easy to understand why Autry ordered the extra bling. On the company's lesser models, the pearl trim on the spruce top faces the audience. On a 45-style Martin, the best and most ornate inlay is visible only from the driver's seat. The gleaming abalone accentuates the graceful curve of the neck heel, and no fewer than eight separate lines of inlay converge within the player's line of sight. On close examination, the work on a vintage D-45 is clean and precise but not quite perfect, clearly crafted by hand.
It is the tone of a prewar D-45, however, that is its hallmark. Mr. Henderson's Martin sounds a bit like it looks, regal and majestic. It has a James Earl Jones voice, rich and resonant and oh-so-distinctive. Strum a simple E chord and the massive guitar will ring for almost 30 seconds before fading to silence. It's got power, the ability to respond to even the most aggressive picking and strumming with increased volume but still pristine tone. But the big D-45 also responds surprisingly well to a delicate touch. Hand it to a master player like Mr. Henderson, who's performed at Carnegie Hall and the White House, and you'll hear what it can do. (He plays his D-45 on his "W.C. Henderson & Friends" CD.)
While it sounds like an interesting instrument, I remain partial to local boy Jesselli and his hand made Axes:
Joseph Jesselli, 56, starts with fine seasoned wood, and finishes -- countless details later -- with pieces of functional art, mostly electric guitars, that have won customers ranging from obscure collectors to Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones.
Electric guitars did not hit their stride until the 1950's, but to hear Mr. Jesselli talk, and to see his work, is to be taken back earlier in the 20th century. He draws his inspiration from Art Deco and Art Nouveau, from gun and furniture makers and from what he believes is a dying group: skilled artisans who served true apprenticeships and know how to use their hands.
''To me, an artisan has to chop stuff, really do a good job, like a woodcarver,'' Mr. Jesselli said at his studio. ''A guy who inlays, a guy who gilds, a guy who finishes. These take lifetimes to really master these things.''
His obsessive attention to detail shapes every part of his process, from start (''I don't want to use a piece of wood unless I've had it 10 years'') to finish (''a finisher is not just a guy who schlops paint on a piece of furniture -- it's a really very intense thing to do''). As a final touch, he even makes leather and oak cases with tools and straps to match that guitar.
That's One Big, Beautiful Guitar
The Martin D-45 is an 'amazing' acoustic instrument to play -- and to behold
ALLEN ST. JOHN
WSJ, January 21, 2006; Page P14
NYT, September 25, 2005
Friday, January 20, 2006
I love this perspective:
Thursday, January 19, 2006
How whack is this: Automatic Camera situated 7 miles from Atomic blast with 10 foot lens. Shutter speed equaled 1/1000,000,000 of-a-second exposure:
via Harold Edgerton
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Honda Commercial Sound FX Done in All Human Vocals
How cool is this:
click for commercial
Human Choir Provides Sound For Honda Civic Ad
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
NYC Food Blogs
An excellent collection of food links, via Slice:
NYC Food Blogs
Bourrez Votre Visage
Craig's List Food Forum
Eat, Drink, One Woman
The Food Section
The Girl Who Ate Everything
Gothamist's Food Archives
The Impetuous Epicure
Manhattan User's Guide
The Times's Dining & Wine section
NYC Restaurant Inspection Info
The Times's Dining & Wine section
The Village Voice's Eats Section
Pretty deep selection of stuff!
FOOD IN GENERAL
Chocolate and Zucchini
Di Vino & Cibo (Italy)
The Grocery List Collection
I Was Just Really Very Hungry
International Federation of Competitive Eating
'Ono Kine Grindz
Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas
Super Chef Blog
Watch Me Eat a Hot Dog
Words To Eat By
Wrapped in Dough
Monday, January 16, 2006
On Surveillence and Liberty
A speech from (of all people) Al Gore:
"Is our Congress today in more danger than were their predecessors when the British army was marching on the Capitol? Is the world more dangerous than when we faced an ideological enemy with tens of thousands of missiles poised to be launched against us and annihilate our country at a moment's notice? Is America in more danger now than when we faced worldwide fascism on the march-when our fathers fought and won two World Wars simultaneously?
It is simply an insult to those who came before us and sacrificed so much on our behalf to imply that we have more to be fearful of than they. Yet they faithfully protected our freedoms and now it is up to us to do the same."
Martin Luther King Day address
Jan. 16, 2006
Gore Assails Domestic Wiretapping Program
CBS News, Jan. 16, 2006