Danie Roux

People person, change agent. Journeyer through problem and solution space. Interested in being interested.

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When suggestions go wrong

January 16th, 2007 · 1 Comment · general

I have been slowly adding my books to LibraryThing. I quite like it and I’m hoping that it will help me discover some new books and authors. Based on what I own, LibraryThing makes suggestions of other books I might like.

But LibraryThing has another, unusual, feature which they call UnSuggester:

“Unsuggester takes ‘people who like this also like that’ and turns it on its head. It analyzes the nine million books LibraryThing members have recorded as owned or read, and comes back with books least likely to share a library with the book you suggest.”

This does not work so well. My current “unsuggestions” includes this one:

Now, Wuthering Heights is one of my favourite novels of all times. I own it, and I own most of the Bronte sisters’ books. But I also have ANSI Common Lisp on my Amazon Wishlist.

With suggestions you can easily find the cluster of books someone is interested in and extrapolate to related ones.

But in this case, there are two clusters (books on functional programming and classic English literature) and I own books in both. You can not assume that people only belong to only one cluster at a time. The opposite of Lisp1 is not Wuthering Heights.

All said, Its an entertaining feature, Unsuggester. The unsuggestions of both ANSI Common Lisp and Wuthering Heights reminded me of a few books I still need to read.

1 It might be Java ;-)

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