Emergent, discoverable relationships

24 October, 2005

Someone sent me a message on pointing out that I’m the top fan for A Stroke of Genius by the Freelance Hellraiser (and in fact the top fan for Freelance Hellraiser on the whole of which surprised me). The other top fan is a user called russeljsmith. One of russeljsmith’s friends is behemothpuss who is also one of my friends.

Visiting russeljsmith’s Flickr profile page I see that not only is one of his contacts Leeds Guy, who in turn has me as one of his contacts but that russeljsmith and behemothpuss (Emma B on Flickr) are mutual Flickr contacts, and Emma B and I are mutual contacts.

It’s quite possible that there are a number of other points of contact between myself and this person which I’ll never discover.

Looking at the categories on his weblog, we have quite a few interests in common (web development, usability, games), although he doesn’t post frequently enough for me to actually subscribe. What’s really intriguing is the prospect that there may be other people I’m linked to in a similar manner, but will never find.

There’s virtually no chance that without the initial prompting I would ever have discovered russeljsmith, so how could I have done so automatically?

Flickr-FOAF tools could have revealed the links, but they’d also reveal links to many, many other people as well. I don’t think there are currently any tools to extract a list of people with common musical taste from, or rather, other top fans of bands for whom you are a massive fan (it does have a set of webservices so these could possibly be leveraged to provide what’s necessary, but I’m not sure – just getting a list of overall “musical neighbours” for a user isn’t enough). After that, if you still have a list of, say, thirty people then the only thing for it is to run their homepages through a keyword extraction tool like Yahoo’s (there’s another popular one that launched recently but I can’t quite remember what it is – it seemed to judge my blog as being about Web 2.0 which, as you can imagine, made me terribly bitter 😉 ) and compare the keywords against a list of your interests. Still, I can’t imagine that the results are likely to be any better than shaky.

What else could be done to mine these systems for user-user recommendations?

See other posts tagged with general and all posts made in October 2005.


04 November, 2005 at 14:22

Erm, hello – this mentions me!

I can’t really explain why I’m reading your blog when I should in fact be writing an essay on Chaucer, but there you go. It does have something to do with another more convoluted coincidence that I was investigating on lastfm though.

emma b from flickr / behemothpuss from / various other online identities that you’ll perhaps one day discover…!

04 November, 2005 at 15:23

Chaucer? How hard can it be? Courtly love, blah blah blah 😉

06 January, 2006 at 12:48

Ahh yes, just found my way back to this post that mentions me through Technorati, I’m russelljsmith pretty much everywhere.

I too have noticed that using a number of the more popular websites you do occasionaly come across the same people (Emma B being a great example).

It would be good if there was a more acurate way of pulling out and highlighting interesting contacts from the interesections of interests. Taking it to it’s extreme maybe your mobile could then let you know when one of these people walks into your local pub!

Hopefully somebody will one day leverage something like FOAF to do this, here’s hoping!


06 January, 2006 at 13:52

Excellent, you found this post! I’m so pleased 🙂

You’re right of course, and hopefully these apps will start appearing.