’s P3 Platform

I was finally able to spend quality time with the Reader, an app designed to show some of the capabilities of the underlying platform, called P3, which is currently in beta. To be clear, unlike many other players in the recommendation patch (GetGlue, Xydo, Hunch, etc.), this NYC-based startup is not in the business of providing a direct service to users.

Instead they give access to their cloud-based recommendation server through a set of RESTful APIs. The Reader app is just a demonstration of what can be done with their technology.

So what can be done?

After reading through the P3 reference documents and interacting with the Reader, you quickly see that P3’s aim is to reproduce formerly expensive, proprietary technology mastered by a few players (Netflix, Amazon) for businesses in general— most likely, those in the small-to-medium bins.

It’s another Nick Carr moment for me, in which technology has turned a previously mysterious application, recommendation algorithms in this case, into something closer to an appliance meant for wider usage. Continue reading

Google Prediction Goes to the Movies

With my request to use Google’s black-box Prediction APIs finally approved and a little time available in my schedule, I set out to see how well Google’s racks of CPUs would do against a few training sets I had in mind.

Ultimately, I was hoping to gain more insight into the question: Can software algorithms (with help from the crowd) predict what I’ll like in books, movies, web sites, and food?

To make this a manageable project, I limited the scope of my exercise to the modest problem of predicting  amusing movie titles.

Wait, don’t laugh! I have some definite ideas on this subject, which I was able to compress into simple rules.  For example, a number or date with an exclamation after it, funny!  I’m tickled by these somewhat hypothetical movie titles:“Ten!”, “1941!”, or  this real knee slapper, “22!”

I’m also similarly affected by titles with a man or woman’s name that ends in a vowel followed by an exclamation or question mark. “Ralphie?” Hilarious.  “Albert.”  Not funny.  And titles with “Being”, as in “Being Ralphie”, are funny  in a knowing, ironic way.

So how did Google’s mysterious Prediction oracle do ?Continue reading