For my wishlist: a start page that learns

I had the pleasure of joining Rex Hammock for drinks last night in Potrero Hill while he was here for Macworld Expo.

Rex is tuned in to some interesting aspects of the online world, particularly through his site SmallBusiness.com which is becoming a useful and increasingly powerful wiki. I was amazed to hear that the contributions are no longer coming from his team. The community is making the site work and building it into a resource that matters.

We also talked about RSS and start pages. Rex shares my frustration that start pages are so dependent on custom configurations that the majority of the world will never do. Machine learning and recommendations technology is not new, and it seems like such an obvious direction for the start page to go…

Show me what the world looks like through a global lens, my networks' lenses and my own personal lens. Learn from both my explicit and implicit behaviors and then adjust.

Amazon knows how to use my shopping behavior to create compelling shopping experiences. Why can’t my news reading behavior be interpreted to create a better start page experience?

The Onion understands this, too:

Amazon Recommendations Understand Area Woman Better Than Husband

Pamela Meyers said that her husband, whose gift choices have never reflected any outward recognition of her desire to learn Spanish, nor of the fact that she looks terrible in orange, rarely, if ever, communicates with Meyers while away on any of his frequent business trips.

“I was having some tea from that Nebraska Cornhuskers mug Dean got me for Valentine’s Day, when a little emai from Amazon popped up out of the blue,” Meyer said. “Just completely out of the blue.”

“It was nice to know that on my birthday, someone or something was out there thinking about me, and what boxsed sets I wanted.”

5 thoughts on “For my wishlist: a start page that learns”

  1. Sounds like you’re looking for something like Findory. It’s the difference between a page that personalizes itself for you rather than a page that you customize for yourself.

  2. You’re right, Chris. I often forget about Findory, but it’s a really nice service. I’m not sure why I keep forgetting about it…it just feels like something is missing. I’ve never been able to pinpoint what’s missing. I’ll look at it again.

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