Monday, November 29, 2010

Friday's Links: This Week...On Monday!

Most Fridays I compile a short sampling of links that have tickled my interest that week. With Thanksgiving and four glorious days of football watching, I regret that this post was delayed until today. With that said...


Can you really see who viewed your Facebook profile? Rogue application spreads virally. - no, no you can't install a program to see who viewed your Facebook profile. Its. A. Trap.

Google buys Groupon for $2.5 billion? - No one knows...but everyone is assuming...

10 Ways to Be a Better Manager - I find myself at bnet.com on a regular basis to read their how-to style business articles.


The Algorithm + the Crowd are Not Enough -just read this compelling post about the limits of the current model for web applications...and the return of the editor? Could it be? Read a sample here:

Why does a page rank first in Google for a particular query? Why does one link stay on Reddit’s homepage for hours while another, with a similar number of votes, fall off in just a few minutes? Why does Facebook show me ads for customer service jobs at Comcast? Why did Amazon recommend buying whole milk with this Badonkadonk Land Cruiser?
If we don’t understand why these suggestions were made, couldn’t that bias us against trusting future recommendations from these services?

Fred Wilson recently  made a compelling case that we shouldn’t invest in something we don’t understand:
…sectors of the venture capital market are filling up with investors chasing returns. And some of them do not understand what they are investing in. I got a call a few weeks ago from an individual investor who wanted to invest in one of our portfolio companies. He asked about the company and from his questions it was pretty clear he did not understand the business very well. He went ahead and made an offer to invest. That scared me.
I’ve been visited recently by a number of foreign investment vehicles, many of whom are investing billions of dollars of sovereign wealth. They all want to get into our funds and our deals. When I talk to them about why, they can’t really articulate a cogent argument about the economic potential of the social web. But they see the returns and want some of them too. That scares me.

I’d argue that some people will find it equally hard, and perhaps similarly foolish to trust suggestion/ranking services whose algorithms they can’t understand. These same people might turn to recommendation sources they can easily grasp and results they can logically dissemble.
My point isn’t that Google, Netflix, Amazon, Yelp or any of the others are doomed. But I do think there’s an opportunity brewing for entrepreneurs, websites and companies to add editorial components to the algo-crowd paradigm.
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