Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Guzzlefish and Affinity

This isn't related to learning in any obvious way, but it's pretty neat. It's a service/site called Guzzlefish that lets people post their media collections (games, movies, music) -- just titles and reviews, not the media itself for download -- then discuss, compare and trade. At first it seemed like a lame idea to want to show off your consumer excess, but I think it's more interesting than that. Most of us feel that the movies and music we enjoy reflect something about our identities.

Our tastes in movies and music are facets that help us determine our levels of affinity to other people -- none of this is new in the social software realm, and services like Ryze let you find shared locations and interests of all kinds, even combining multiple facets if you're willing to pay. But I don't know if they offer Guzzlefish's coolest feature: when you're looking at a collection or profile, you can choose to see a list of the users with the most shared titles. So you can find someone across the country who has 28 of the 46 movies you own, which isn't earth-shattering, but if you're passionate about movies, that shared interest could be pretty cool.

This got me wondering about other identity-matching systems. If I understand Friendster correctly, you can only connect to other people within your social network. Maybe you can search for multiple facets within that circle, but that still seems limiting. Lisa says LiveJournal used to offer multiple-interest searches for paid users, but they turned it off. Match.com does some really sophisticated things with their search, including multiple facets, the ability to save your searches, and a one-click compatibility search that must be amazing if it works as billed.

I'm also wondering if there would be a benefit to this kind of affinity-matching in an online career planning service for high school kids. Ideally, a student could fill their portfolio with things that reflected their identities -- interests, plans, skills, goals. Would they engage in the process enough to want to see the portfolios of other kids who shared many of their attributes? If I'm in Grade 10, thinking about becoming a veterinarian and planning to go to Brown University, would I want to connect to others who had a similar plan?

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