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Illumio to Launch Social Network Advice Software 132

hdtv writes "The New York Times is reporting that Palo Alto-based Illumio will soon try to figure out the experts among your social network with a new online service." From the article: "Illumio is not a search engine, like Google or Yahoo. The system works by transparently distributing a request for information on questions like "Who knows John Smith?" and "Are Nikon digital cameras better than Olympus?" to the computers in a network of users. The questions can then be answered locally based on a novel reverse auction system that Illumio uses to determine who the experts are."
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Illumio to Launch Social Network Advice Software

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  • Hmmm ... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Petrushka ( 815171 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @02:41AM (#15427017)
    Hmmm ... sounds kinda like the Slashdot moderator system.
  • by Negatyfus ( 602326 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @02:42AM (#15427019) Journal
    Is Digg better than Slashdot?

    *ducks*
  • Opinions anyone... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by packetmon ( 977047 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @02:42AM (#15427020) Homepage
    How could this model label someone an expert when all they're doing is an assessment and rendering an opinion. I can see this posing a problem if say Company X introduced fakesters into a social circle to hype up a product. For example, a social circle with MS workers will likely give negative influence to someone seeking to say purchase Redhat. Coca Cola... Pepsi, and the possibilities become endless. Sounds like an idea, but there is no guarantee of getting untainted honest results simply catered opinions.
    • by innocence18 ( 897646 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @02:55AM (#15427036)
      Ideally you would want to end up with a situation like Wikipedia where you have such a large number of contributors (experts) that it cancels out all the garbge like you've mentioned. Whether or not that is feasible in a system like this remains to be seen I guess.
      • Perhaps they can use some kind of trust and reputation assessment tool. If you look at some papers on the http://www.springerlink.com/(wrwksw55m1sbuk55j3laz 1yi)/app/home/contribution.asp?referrer=parent&bac kto=issue,3,6;journal,4,38;linkingpublicationresul ts,1:102852,1 [springerlink.com]subject , there are some interesting approaches which have been proposed to validate systems of autonomous agents. I don't think it would be much of a problem to use them to validade people's opinions.
        Of course, a high-level of collus
        • by kfg ( 145172 )
          reliability can be assessed based on who agrees with whom, in which case you will see pockets of people with 0 reliability (these people can then be banned from the system).

          This assesses consensus, not correctness. The two are often at odds with each other.

          As Thoreau noted a man more correct than his neighbors already constitutes a majority of one.

          I am always suspicious of those product review sites.

          And this, I am afraid, is already the optimum solution to the problem.

          KFG
          • This assesses consensus, not correctness. The two are often at odds with each other.

            Sounds like the Bose speakers flamewars. The general consensus among the entire population is that they are great speakers, but the consensus among audio engineers is that they are garbage.

            • by kfg ( 145172 )
              Consider, however, a situation in which an audio engineer actually recommends Bose speakers as an optimum solution to a particular problem, even though in general they are crappy.

              He'll be out in left field all by himself, even though his opinion is the most correct.

              Trust systems are really only valuable in finding average solutions to average problems. In unique situations requiring real expertise they will tend to reject the true experts right along with the clueless wonders.

              KFG
          • This assesses consensus, not correctness. The two are often at odds with each other.

            Is this not the same problem that PageRank faces? From their own description [google.com]:

            "PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page's value."

            In fact, Wikipedia is also subject to the same forces, as is the peer-review process of most scientific journals and the concept of democracy.

            I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm saying I'm scared you are right.
      • Re: astroturfing and other methods of "poisoning the 'well".
        Ideally you would want to end up with a situation like Wikipedia where you have such a large number of contributors (experts) that it cancels out all the garbge like you've mentioned. Whether or not that is feasible in a system like this remains to be seen I guess.
        It could be argued that Wikipedia has failed to demonstrate the feasibility of this concept.
        • It could be argued that Wikipedia has failed to demonstrate the feasibility of this concept.

          It could be argued that Wikipedia has demonstrated the futility of this concept. Everyone thinks they are an expert, when in fact, the experts left this town a long time ago.

          And were told not to come back.
      • No, rather than hoping people edit like Wikipedia (which we've seen is vulnerable to active PR campaigns, see the wikipedia entry on Walmart) - this would be more useful if you had techie friends you knew. How many times have people asked me about specs on a decent computer? Dozens, wouldn't it be easier, rather than rewrite the same comment about RAM to ten people, to just point them to your recommendations on this site.

        If you want a techie's perspective on some hardware, you could see if he/she has writ
    • There are enough unsolicited fakesters as is, no need to introduce more. :)

      Seriously though, you don't 'introduce fakesters into a social circle', you introduce them to a system. What goes for someone considered an expert isn't obligatory to work for you, especially where usability/design/fashion-trend issues are concerned. If you have a working system that allows you to rate how peoples' opinions conicide with yours, and a hiscore table from among your friends of sorts, it's all that it takes to be at leas

      • Oh, and if properly implemented, brands fighting holy wars could probably cancel each other out.

        I don't think you could implement a system in such a way. The important ratio isn't Brand A Promoters to Brand B Promoters; the important ratio is Brand Promoters to Valid Opinions. If the ratio is too much in favour of brand promoters then you'll either get two sets of results from your queries which are just extreme contradictions or you will get a smeared out average that tells you nothing because the mino
        • Well, there are enough issues where it is a question of individiual preferences rather than of 'truth'. In my Nokia-Motorola example, what is the correct answer? There is no correct answer.. especially if you consider that -Adams-style! - most people don't know the question, i.e. people don't really always know what they want from a product, they usually know what they THINK they want from one, and it's not that rare they turn out wrong on this. I know I have been in the past and will probably be in the fut
    • It looks from the article like their money is going to come from enterprise deployments and that they're putting their real focus there. The typical query would be less like "Should I drink Coke(TM)?" and more like "Who understands $LEGACY_PACKAGE?".
    • by Anonymous Coward
      They're not looking for real experts, but for people who have influence over others. The question about how many "John Smiths" you know is a sociologist's question to determine the span of a person's personal network (in a predominantly Anglo-Saxon society).

      I don't know whether it will work, but the holy grail is to identify a few highly influential people who can be the focus of marketers. It's in no company's interest to mis-identify the "experts", because they all need to find them.

      A focus group is just
  • Sounds promising. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Escogido ( 884359 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @02:44AM (#15427024)
    What could be complicating matters, though, is the fact that the concept is very natural for any blogging or social networking service. It would make sense if the feature gains popularity (which seems very likely) if LinkedIn or even LiveJournal would release such a feature shortly. There we could have a problem Houston for Illumio, because it would be then hard to compete against the existing monsters.. unless their "killer algorythm" is "too good".

    Otherwise, *rubs hands in anticipation*
    • Re:Sounds promising. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AuMatar ( 183847 )
      At the moment it sounds like vaporware- no links to the website, and google returns no results for illumino. Tacit Software's website shows nothing except some collaboration software for buisnesses. Hard to say if something is promising or not if you can't look at the thing.
      • by Escogido ( 884359 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @04:35AM (#15427169)
        The piece of software may be a vaporware for what it's worth. The idea, however, is not, and in fact very clever. They may flop with the way they want to implement it.. but think of all the possibilities.

        Say, you need a new mobile phone and have some twenty or something friends in a social circle whose opinion you value. You decide you want to start with a brand first. You do some preliminary research and end up with say Nokia and Motorola. From that point, you can proceed no further since you really haven't a clue.. or maybe torn for options.. or maybe behind the trend and want to keep up.. doesn't matter. You want opinions of the people you know.. so now here's what you supposedly do in such a system:

        You issue a 'call for opinions', type your question and nokia on the left and motorola on the right. Your friends hopefully indicate their opinions, maybe attach some notes why they think so and what models they recommend. You have your answers and make your decision. Now you have to select a model, you follow the same routine, probably in more than one step, and somehow end up with a conclusion. You now go and buy the phone and after using it some time you can issue some feedback by rating how helpful and truthful the friends' tips were.

        Now if your friends do the same, and their friends etc. and a system that does some magic with the ratings is in place. There you can have a weighted rating of how useful or not opinions of the people you know to you are. With the advantages of the other networking, and public queries/answers you would hopefully then be able to fine tune your preferences in such a way so that you would be taking advice from the people you feel you trust the most.

        From a commercial POV, this really seems to be a goldmine, if implemented properly, that is. Given that in general some personal information on you is availiable to the owners of such a system, Nokia and Motorola would kill for such information as who buys their phones and what models and possibly attached feedback.

        Well let's see anyway. Oh, and somebody else in the comments has the link to the site.
        • I'm making one of these for my automatic restaurant picker. See, we had a hard time deciding where to go to lunch so I compiled a list of nearby restaurants in a table in mysql and used a simple php script to generate a random one. Then it was determined that there are some places that are "essentials", the cheap coffee shop on the corner with the lunch special, etc. that you'd want to go to more often than other restarants.

          So now what it's going to do is pick a restaurant, email it to the lunch group, th
    • Imagine this in a university setting. Being able to ask the whole university about a topic and getting in touch with the experts on campus about it. Granted it is no replacement for your own research because you can not learn any more about a topic than the person you are talking to knows.
  • by slarrg ( 931336 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @02:45AM (#15427026)
    Now all I need is a way to automatically blacklist all of the "experts" and the number of opinionated blowhards who contact me will decrease.
  • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @02:48AM (#15427029)
    The beginning of the article has a makebelieve scenario where you get answers to question like "are brand X cameras better than brand y". But that is such a generic question - how do you answer that? What metric? It really depends on what you want, and being an informed consumer, hitting all the usual spots for tech specs and opinions (usenet, amazon with reviews, other places with reviews, etcetera) might be better.

    I'm sure they are trying to develop something more commercial, perhaps to be used in large organizations, but the article begins badly to present it that way, and isn't really clear.
    • by Escogido ( 884359 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @02:57AM (#15427038)
      From what I've read, it looks like they are trying to make it work like this. I ask a question, is A better than B? My friends state their opinion. I then make a decision, given all the opinions, and rate afterwards whether it was useful to me or not. There we have a rating. And if I know somebody is rated by the majority of their friends as an expert, I would be more inclined to believe them.

      As to commercial possibilities, the capability to know who really your TA is (sex/age/background/whatnot) is priceless, and the questions kind of reveal it. Looks like they could hit a goldmine if done 'properly': it's much like polls, but with more or less honest answers and done voluntarily!
      • The problem is they'll more likely rate based on appearence than content. If you can appear smart(like the idiot from marketing whos good with users) then people will take your word for it rather than the guy who actually knows the right answer but has no people skills and doesnt "pad" the answer with fluff to sound more knowledgeable.
        • You are right. But basically what you are saying just narrows down the usefulness of such 'expertize'. Think of Wikipedia; you can often rely on it to check what some obscure term really means, but no way you can be so sure about anything anywhere close to politics. You just don't go to Wikipedia for that sort of stuff, although it is sometims kind of educational to read the fighting at certain talk pages. Or take Digg, we can already digg articles, this way we can digg people. But that something is dugg to
      • Which, IMO, is very good. The OP can flag replies as "Correct Answer" and "Assisted Answer," allowing the experts to tally a total score. You can then filter on expertise. Tektips.com does the same thing.
    • Maybe they've developed a new algorithm that looks for 'mu' answers like yours? Real experts will usually ask for more information before answering your question - professional experts like doctors and lawyers sometimes don't answer your question at all!
  • "Who is..." (Score:2, Funny)

    by CptNerd ( 455084 )

    Who cares who John Smith is, I want to know "Who is John Galt?"

  • by packetmon ( 977047 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @02:56AM (#15427037) Homepage
    A desktop search engine enhances your Illumio experience. The DSE creates an index of the files (all or just the ones you designate) and Illumio uses this information to more efficiently filter requests so you receive more precisely matched recommendations. How can a search of files on my machine enhance someone else's opinion... "This is searching your friends' heads as reflected in what's on their computers," Ms. Dyson said. I have about 4 laptops at home. This happens to be my FreeBSD "anything goes machine" and I have my business laptop kept off of my home network. I have about 14+ years working experience in the IT field. On this machine I have nothing but music and art. Does this mean I would not qualify to answer questions about routers, session border controllers, VoIP equipment. Outside of what is known about this software, their words on privacy seem a little off-beat to me... "A simple search of what's on someone's machine will determine their level of expertise... I have another laptop my girlfriend uses to surf. Her cache is filled with "fashion" stuff... Will I be asked to partake based of her cache. Seems slightly ridiculous the more I think about it...
    • by AccUser ( 191555 ) <mhg&taose,co,uk> on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @03:06AM (#15427053) Homepage
      On this machine I have nothing but music and art.


      Yeah. Right. mp3s and pr0n?

    • by cgranade ( 702534 ) <cgranade AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @03:19AM (#15427078) Homepage Journal
      That does seem very odd. Of further note: the "service" is based on an application that requires Windows XP. Though I imagine it would run under Linux w/ Wine, the default assumption seems to remain that only Windows users are experts. By excluding users of *BSD, Linux, OS X and other OSs, they are dramatically reducing the size of their network, which seems like would only negatively impact the entire project. If they're serious about building a social network, they should either design the frontend to their service in (X)HTML, which has clients under any OS that I can care to name, or they should write versions of the app for all major operating systems at the least. Even using a VM framework like Java or .NET would be better than just leaving all but your pet OS out in the cold.
      • the default assumption seems to remain that only Windows users are experts.

        Well, with logic like that, I can see why they wouldn't care about the opinions of people that don't use Windows. It's never that they design something to work with the most popular OS on the planet. It's always some conspiracy to punish those that are better than everyone else.
        • You're probably going to get a flamebait mod for that, but I have to applaud anyway. Insightful comment.

          (I'm a dedicate linux user--but the attitudes of so many people particularly here on /. is just way too much.)

        • Most Linux and BSD users seem to know a lot more about Windows that Windows users (and "trained" admins and programmers) do.
        • Sir, you have missed my point entirely. Why make it specific to any OS? Isn't one of the principles of the web equal access? It's not that any group is better than any other, but that there is no good reason to exclude people like that if your entire point is to build a large social network.
          • Why make it specific to any OS?

            How do I make software that's independent of the platform it runs on? Make it with Java or something that people complain about? "Pure" HTML? What if HTML isn't capable of the features and functions I want? Try some non-standard things? I either have to leave it with fewer features than I want, or I have to take OS into consideration (and, since there exists no one browser that runs on everything, anything that is browser specific at all *is* OS specific, even if that e
      • Of further note: the "service" is based on an application that requires Windows XP.

        Gotta' start somewhere, and the broadest base isn't a bad place. I'm sure other operating systems will be added if this thing proves viable. There's certainly no conspiracy against certain users of other systems, just good old home-grown marketing.

      • By excluding users of *BSD, Linux, OS X and other OSs, they are dramatically reducing the size of their network

        Especially if you're looking for an expert on one of these OSs.

      • By excluding users of *BSD, Linux, OS X and other OSs, they are dramatically reducing the size of their network, which seems like would only negatively impact the entire project.

        Don't flatter yourself. While network experts may be likely to use a non-Windows OS, a plenty of other expert types (medical, phylosophical, cameras, movies, music, appliances etc.) actually use Windows.

        Actually 90% of computer users do. Thus negating the argument about "dramatical decrease" in the network size.

        I bet if they have su
    • Similarly, I have a little over 7 years commercial experience of server-side programming for websites, mostly in Java. On my home machine, I have a few toy projects, mostly in C# (as I want to broaden my skill set), mostly desktop-based (for the same reason).

      I don't know about anyone else, but I tend to keep my personal interests and my work interests separate.
  • Eat shit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @03:00AM (#15427045)
    millions of flies can't be wrong!
    • Re:Eat shit (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Vo0k ( 760020 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @03:53AM (#15427117) Journal
      Mod parent up.

      This thing will enforce the power of urban legends, myths and other false but popular memes, people opposing them will be a minority.

      "What is more secure, Windows or Linux"?
      And you get 1000 votes for "Windows" from 10% of Windows users of the service who bother to answer so, and 100 votes for "Linux" from nearly 70% of Linux users who will take time to answer plus another 2% of Windows users who know better.

      And this will favour positive answers for questions with bias on your interests.

      Say, you're an emo. You have your disk full of emo mp3s and dark poetry. And like every emo, you ponder suicide. So just to make the final decision, you type "Should I commit suicide?" and your question goes out to different people. But the most answers come from people who too have lots of emo mp3s and dark poetry on disks, simply, other emos. And you can guess the answers, "If I had enough guts, I would do it." "Yes, darkness, finally", "End your life, I'll envy you." Normal non-emo people don't keep that kind of crap on their disks and their advices to just drop that dark shit and get a life will get dropped by the system as not matching your interests...
      • Re:Eat shit (Score:2, Funny)

        by AuMatar ( 183847 )
        I'm sorry- is the emo example supposed to be a drawback or benefit of the system? Think of the amount of crappy poems and bad websites we'd kill.
      • Re:Eat shit (Score:5, Interesting)

        by PatrickThomson ( 712694 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @05:00AM (#15427198)
        This illustrates an important point about the internet in general. It enables people to only mingle with those similar to them, which is a shame because my most enriching experiences come from a diverse range of different people, coworkers, family, none technically literate. If we are permitted to choose everything we encounter, then life becomes boring and you lose perspective unless you throw in a "surprise me" or two.
        • because my most enriching experiences come from a diverse range of different people, coworkers, family, none technically literate.

          Your example clearly illustrates that this selectivity works, because if we choose our circle by one or few criteria, but there are so many other dimensions those people are different from you, that makes it quite far from being boring. And of course, if we choose our circle by multitude of criteria, then definitely boredom argument does not apply.

        • omg...that ability to mingle with those similar to them sounds remarkably like...REAL LIFE. Choosing to interact with those different than you is just as easy if not easier on the Internet. I'd argue that it is both easier to NOT interact with different people as well as to CHOOSE to interact with different people, therefore negating your point.
        • an important point about the internet in general. It enables people to only mingle with those similar to them, which is a shame because my most enriching experiences come from a diverse range of different people

          Exactly how diverse is your interaction in this "real life" thing? Let me see, family, work, church, club, is that all? Have you ever tried to start a random conversation with a stranger in the street? In average, how many new people do you get to know in one week?

          What's so special about the interne

          • Yes, I meant to clarify that. I specifically have regained my perspective on technology by meeting real people via an endless string of student jobs, other people on my course, family members, none of whom can do more than use MSN.
        • There's actually nothing wrong with mingling with those of the same interest, in fact quite the opposite. As an analogy, if you are learning how to play the saxophone, are you gonna mingle with sky divers, or other saxophonists?

          If you have no goal or purpose, then meeting random people is a great way to be introduced to new ideas and perspectives. But if you do have a goal or purpose, then you are simply losing focus and wasting time by being a dilettante.

          LS
          • Noticed this :-

            There's actually nothing wrong with mingling with those of the same interest, in fact quite the opposite. As an analogy, if you are learning how to play the saxophone, are you gonna mingle with sky divers, or other saxophonists?

            Hell of a question ! Sky-divers, obviously !

            Also noticed this :-

            "If you have no goal or purpose, then meeting random people is a great way to be introduced to new ideas and perspectives. But if you do have a goal or purpose, then you are simply losing fo

            • I would think that deciding whether the play the saxophone while skydiving is not something to bother with until you've reached a certain level of mastery at either.
        • Re:Eat shit (Score:3, Insightful)

          by syousef ( 465911 )
          This illustrates an important point about the internet in general. It enables people to only mingle with those similar to them, which is a shame because my most enriching experiences come from a diverse range of different people, coworkers, family, none technically literate. If we are permitted to choose everything we encounter, then life becomes boring and you lose perspective unless you throw in a "surprise me" or two./I.

          That's a load. Seriously if you lack the imagination to go out and research subjects
  • ...because I would like to find out who the experts are and then DDoS them. I'm tired of people knowing more than me...

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Oh man, do they never learn? A hand full of buzzwords, around the age-old, failed idea of user-generated contents, and they think they have something new.
    • Yep, and they've been around since 1997 doing exactly this kind of stuff...sounds to me like they think they have something that's been profitable for them.

      When you're in business to sell or make money from software, it's not about doing something new, it's about doing something profitable. Do I give a hoot about stuff like this? No...but that just means I'm not the target audience. User-generated content and buzzwords seems to have worked for MySpace, with a 500 million dollar purchase price.

      The idea might
  • URL to the site (Score:5, Informative)

    by mahesh_gharat ( 633793 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @03:15AM (#15427073)
    The URL for the illumio is
    URL: http://www.illumio.com/web/home.jsp [illumio.com]
    It is still not launched and all you can do is register for their early release program. Looks like they are generating hype by all the means they can utilize including posting on the slashdot.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @03:19AM (#15427077)
    Sounds like a spammers dream.
  • I'll go for this idea if they can: Tell us where Jimmy Hoffa is, or
    • Jimmy Hoffa is alive and well - he lives in Mexico City. He has the apartment right next door to the one rented by Jesus Christ. G.W. Bush has an apartment on the floor below. So now you know.
  • Yahoo Answers ( http://answers.yahoo.com/ [yahoo.com] ) is the most recent in a line of peer-to-peer QA systems. How is this any different (aside from the application installation requirement)? How can this compete with Yahoo, Google, Ask, MSN, etc.?

    Or are the founder(s) still working on step 2?

  • The questions can then be answered locally based on a novel reverse auction system that Illumio uses to determine who the experts are.

    Without mentioning that these "experts" can be from competitative company and tell you not to buy either one. Instead they tell you to buy from them...

    Think about it.
  • by ettlz ( 639203 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @04:17AM (#15427147) Journal

    In our Computing classes, we were taught that a system should also be fed garbage data to see how well it really coped.

    Now, have any of you around here heard of a guy called John C. Dvorak?


  • "The collaboration space is big and busy," said David L. Gilmour, president and chief executive of Tacit.

    Where have I heard this name [davidgilmour.com] before...?
  • by TuxPaper ( 531914 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @06:19AM (#15427306)
    Sounds like a great way to spread disinformation.

    Want the answer for "Is there WMDs in Iraq" to be "yes"? Just get enough "experts" saying so.

    Want the answer for "Do most scientists thing Global Warming is real?" to be "No", get enough "experts" to say so.

    "Are violent video games linked to kids murdering people?" The gut answer is "yes", and I'll bet that's what the expert reply will be.

    The list can go on and on. When you live in a society where there are only two sides "your side" and the "wrong side", people will defend their believes to the bitter end. They will spend vast amounts of time obfusticating the truth, giving the perception that the general concensus is unknown or even in their favor.

    You only have to SOUND like you know what you are talking about, and most people will think of you as an expert. Especially if their views match your gut feeling.

    I'm very skeptical it will work, but I look forward to playing with the service (and of course to make sure my side, the right side "wins"! ;)
  • This sounds strikingly similar to the Ask-the-audience [wikipedia.org] life-line on "Who wants to be a millionare?". I havent seen the show too much, but the accuracy of audience answers varies drastically.

    Pose your question to the general public (the methodology for selecting 'experts' seems fishy), and those who stumble upon the question will give their "opinions". The correct answer is the one that is statistically the most popular among the responses.
    • Correct me if I am wrong, but haven't you just described the purpose of Google's PR algorithm?

      The correct answer [top result] is the one that is statistically the most popular among the responses [links/anchor text found].

      In other words, I fail to see what makes this system unique.

  • Uh oh ... I feel this cold wind blowing in from the late 90s: a buzz word packed vague product on an ever-so-cool web-site with a minumum of information in a space already occupied by multiple firms doing pretty much exactly the same thing ...

    We've even got soft pastels, an allergy to the upper case, rounded corners and even a "team blog". "Web I" + "Web II" in giant colorful stickly ball of happy speak. They even manage to work in "Google" on the inside.

    Ah ... nothing like the way an Areon chair molds

  • factland [factland.ca]
  • Ok, so if everyone votes for Product X does that mean Product Y gets the kibosh? I mean, a service like this is only going to find out what most people already like, it won't have any benefits on determining future trends or selling niche products.

    Also, to me this service sounds a bit like product research we already get annoyed with via telephone marketing polls, ick, no thanks!
  • Funny, this sounds to me like a more serious implementation of the Internet (was: Usnet) Oracle [indiana.edu].

    If I ask the woodchuck question or fail to grovel, will I get lashed with a wet noodle?

    • I noticed this bit :

      "If I ask the woodchuck question or fail to grovel, will I get lashed with a wet noodle?"

      and I failed utterly to understand how anyone can attain this level of incomprehension regarding the ways of the world.

      The real questions are, of course,

      "When I ask the woodchuck question and then fail to grovel, will I get lashed with a wet noodle? And, if so, by how many people?"

      And the answers are obvious

      1. Yes, and the noodle will be soaked in acid
      2. Very many will be those who
  • I think the fact that this story has been live for more than ten hours and doesn't have any tags yet pretty much tells the story.

    Not even worth the effort for a "feh".

  • Sounds sort of like the process described in Kevin O'Donnell Jr.'s novel "Ora:Cle". Written twenty years ago, yet features a global internet as a prominent part of the storyline. Here's a review. [sfreviews.com]

    I think this sort of idea has been around a long time in one form or another. Theodore Sturgeon was fond of writing about gestalt humanity ("The Cosmic Rape" aka "To Marry Medusa", "More Than Human", various other short stories). In his books the mechanism for gestalt was generally psychic or otherwise ethereal. B

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