Gaming as a way to collect research data

This is fascinating--using a video game to generate research data. What a brilliant idea! Research like this can be such drudgery, (and, speaking as someone whose written my share of test protocols, not just for the people answering the questions.) So why not have fun while doing it? It's a simple little game, but, heck, it's as valid a time waster as any of a number of facebook apps. (speaking of, seems like for this to really take off, it should be made into a facebook application... what do you think, guys?) ANYWAY, check out the original blog entry from Ironic Sans:

Video Store Clerk Game: A Crowd Wisdom Experiment

On-line movie recommendation systems (such as those at Amazon, Netflix, etc) are pretty good at guessing what movies you might like based on your movie history. Improvements to these systems are constantly being made, using ever more sophisticated algorithms. But how good are they compared to the wisdom of actual people? That’s what my friends Jay and Andy are trying to figure out. And they need your help.

Jay and Andy have created a game called Video Store Clerk in which you play a video store clerk. You are told how a real customer has rated previous movie rentals, and then you are shown another movie title that the person also rented. Can you guess how the customer rated that movie?

They are collecting all the user-generated data and comparing it to the real customers’ ratings. A computer has already played the game with millions of customers, and we know how well it did. The question is whether or not the wisdom of crowds can beat the computer. To gather enough data for an accurate comparison, they need a lot of people to play. So please, pass the link around. Digg it. Blog it. They tell me their server can handle the load.

The experiment’s findings will ultimately go toward building a better movie recommendation system. Hopefully you’ll find the game fun to play, too. And if you have any ideas about improving the game, you can leave a comment here or use the contact link on their site.

Link: Video Store Clerk

Giving it away - blogcastr

OK, I'll throw this idea out there, because I'm pretty sure I won't have the chance to make it myself.

Could someone please create:
A RIA that allows me to write a blog post, and then cross post it to multiple blogs? Blogger, WordPress, Typepad, Moveable Type, My Space... hell, Open Diary, I don't care.

If you give me a cut, I'll even design the UI, branding, etc.

Or if there's something out there that does this well, and is pretty, could someone tell me about it?


Can you have a digital desire path?

So, first off, what's a "desire path"?

From Fritinancy:

Desire path: A term in landscape architecture used to describe a path that isn't designed but rather is worn casually away by people finding the shortest distance between two points.

Here's one from the Desire Path Flickr photo pool:

But can there be such a thing as a desire path when dealing with software, or websites?

I've seen plenty of situations where software users have created elaborate real world workarounds to make up for badly designed software.

Stickies all over someones desktop so that they can remember important info, or tasks to be completed:
or printing screen shots of software for reference, so they don't have to dive into hard to navigate tools...

Can you make the case that these represent user desire paths? The shortest distance between two points--the task, or goal, and the completion of a task or goal?

In landscape architecture, desire paths are communal. One person acts as the trail blazer, and as more and more tread the non-path, a real path emerges. It becomes more and more acceptable to take it. You are basically given permission by everyone who has gone before you. (As an aside, I remember a fascinating video of people crossing a street against a light... it's like we flock across. One maverick pedestrian starts the crossing, and soon it's like the rest of us are compelled into crossing. I guess a desire path is a geographical manifestation of this kind of behavior.)

So, do these stickies, and printout books, represent desire paths? They are definitely short cuts. Are they communal? Often coworkers teach other coworkers how to make them, so that they too can short cut the "pain points" of the crap software they are mandated to use. Or am I just pushing the metaphor too far?

Whatev... I'm gonna start slipping digital or user desire path into conversation, and see if it sticks.

GM to move 50% of ad budget online in 3 years.

From Shelly Palmer:

GENERAL MOTORS will shift half of its $3 billion advertising budget to online and one-to-one marketing within 3 years. That indicates a rapid increase over the $197 million GM spent online last year. The company plans to embrace a wide variety of formats, including gaming, search, interactive applications and more.

More interesting, and telling news for those of us who work in what used to be lovingly called the convergence space. (What was it that was supposed to be converging again?) Apparently GM is going to be focusing $1.5 billion on gaming, search, interactive ads, and more.

I'm beginning to believe more and more in a punctuated equilibrium evolutionary model for the media space. Natural selection is at work, friends. I'm fascinated to see what we all evolve into next...

And, on that note, where is all this interactive ad content going to come from? Traditional agencies (much like some of their big media masters) seem to be stuck in their own tar pits...

1000 True Fans

An interesting article about making a living as an artist in the era of the long tail.

"A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can't wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans...

Assume conservatively that your True Fans will each spend one day's wages per year in support of what you do. That "one-day-wage" is an average, because of course your truest fans will spend a lot more than that. Let's peg that per diem each True Fan spends at $100 per year. If you have 1,000 fans that sums up to $100,000 per year, which minus some modest expenses, is a living for most folks.

One thousand is a feasible number. You could count to 1,000. If you added one fan a day, it would take only three years. True Fanship is doable. Pleasing a True Fan is pleasurable, and invigorating. It rewards the artist to remain true, to focus on the unique aspects of their work, the qualities that True Fans appreciate."