BayCHI monthly program is always on the second Tuesday. This time the second Tuesday happens to be Valentine’s Day. We are going to have a shorter than usual program and will also have some Valentine’s day goodies (chocolates etc. around).
The tagline is: Bring a date or meet someone new! (For the record, that was not my idea)
We have a great program on one of my favorite topics – Visualization. Jock Mackinley from Tableau Software will give a talk on “Visual Interfaces for databases”.
This will be followed by several short visualization demos: Josh On will demo the TheyRule – one of my favorite visualization engines. Michal Migurski & Eric Rodenbeck from Stamen will demo some of their work: I am hoping it will include Mappr and Vow Delici.
The recent recommendations fiasco at Walmart (people looking for Planet of the Apes were directed to movies about Martin Luther King Jr.). Expectedly this was found offensive many and was all over the blogosphere. Walmart now says it was due to some mis-cataloging by an employer in 2005. The end result: its not just that recommendation being changed, the whole recommender system is being taken down.
This is not the first time that recommender systems have been in the news for strange recommendations – though in the past its been about about ludicrous rather than offensive recommendations. For example, recall the “My TIVO thinks I am gay” article and Amazon recommending “underwear” to people looking for .NET books.
As you might have read, cell phones are being adopted at an incredible pace in India. My own observation: everyone has a cell phone and is always using it. One thing I realized very soon after getting to India was that no one has voice mail for their cell phone. And people don’t even get the concept of voicemail and its advantages. After vigorously evangelizing voicemail for a few days, I started getting used to not having voicemail, and even appreciating the advantages of not having voicemail.
Gleaned from my various discussions about voicemail, the Indian point of view seems to be:
-You can always send a SMS instead of a voicemail.
-SMS is less intrusive, people can respond if and when they want to. Or not respond.
-When people make a call, they want to talk to you directly – they are looking for synchronous voice communication. Voicemail does not help with that – even a long, chatty message does not. You might as well SMS and set up a time to talk.