Tag Archives: Trust and Reputation

Presentation in standard format, S5

Some days ago I had to give a presentation for the 2K* symposium, a joint initiative of research groups from different IT institutions, based in Trento and in Genova. The 40 mins presentation was titled “Trust in Recommender Systems: an historical overview and recent developments” (check the source code!). It is heavily based on an old presentation, I just added some slides about microformats, a concept I wanted to convey to the audience.
Anyway, I took the occasion to try to create the presentation in HTML using S5: A Simple Standards-Based Slide Show System developed by Eric Meyer. I think I will create all my future presentation in S5 from now on. The advantages: it “forces” you to keep the slides simple (no unnatural flow of information) and short (however you can have animations, check this slide); it is easy to publish the presentation on the Web, anyone can link to a specific slide, search engines find the information and index them, it is highly standard, evolutionary and small-pieces-loosely-connected-philosophy-like (for exaple it would be possible to create a small piece of javascript code that collect slides from different presentations in some meaningful automatic way to create a new presentation, but the possibilities are endless of course, especially if using the S5 format based on XOXO microformat), I can create the presentation with whatever text editor (perfect if you are in text mode), it does not require the viewer to have some fancy program (openoffice for the freedom lovers, powerpoint for the others) but a browser suffices.
You can find many presentations in S5 format in the microformats wiki; I also liked this presentation of Firefox, with style vulpes-flagrans or with style greenery. Yes, I know the stile I used for my presentation is not that great, if someone with graphical skills would like to create a style for me, it will be very appreciated of course.
For starting playing with S5, I suggest you S5 primer (you need to download HTML code and edit it) or S5present, an open-source web-based slideshow application (you just create an identity there and then use the site for creating the presentation). Guess what? S5 Presents was written in under 10 hours and 500 lines of code using the fantastic Ruby on Rails framework.


Am I a human? Well, I take the Turing Test

Very funny post: How I failed the Turing test. Actually, it raises a lot of metaphysical questions.
Some time around March, I started receiving a number of random instant messages from people I’ve never met before. Apparantly, my AIM alias had been added to at least two online lists and people all over the world were busy importing me as a buddy.
I say “at least two” because the people who contacted me fell into one of two camps: people who thought they were contacting a celebrity and people who thought they were contacting a robot. As I talked to more and more of these folks, I began to discover something really disturbing about myself:
I consistently fail to be perceived as human.

Since you are defined but what other people think of you, if the other people think you are not an human, what are you?
Read the entire post.

Trusted computing video

Marco Fabbri comments on my previous post about open standards and recommends me to check the Trusted Computing Video, since I’m interesting in Trust. The video overcame my attention threshold at least twice during this week but when I tried to watch it the site was always down. This time I was luckier and I must say the video is incredibly well done, and released under a Creative Commons licence!
Marco Fabbri (some initial pagerank for a new comer in the blogosphere) comments that I will find especially interesting the definition given: “Trust is the personal believe in correctness of s.th. . It is the deep conviction of truth and rightness, and can not be enforced. If you gain s.o. trust, you have estabilished an interpersonal relationship, based on communication, shared values and experiences. TRUST always depends on mutuality”.
Idea: since the video is under Creative Commons, shall we be a bit Creative and enrich the Commons? Shall we translate and dub it in Italian so that non-English-speakers can get an idea of what this is about? I could easily translate the text but I don’t have any device (trusted or not) for recording the audio.
And just in case you don’t have handy plugins for playing videos (as me), here we have some direct links to the high quality video: http://www.lafkon.net/tc/trusted-computing.torrent, http://yafc.net/TrustedComputing_LAFKON_HIGH.mov

Problems with Beppe Grillo Blog

Beppe Grillo Blog is currently 66th on the Technorati list of top blogs. Pretty impressive if you think he only writes in Italian. However I see some problems with this blog I’ll try to describe here.
Every daily post has around 1000 comments. This is not a problem per se, of course, if people want to write a lot of comments to every your post, this is good, you probably write something that is very interesting.
So today I wanted to alert Beppe (or who read all the comments) about this article on groklaw, so I went to beppegrillo.it and try to leave a comment and, surprise, you cannot leave as signature a link to your blog but only an email address! This is really against empowering communication in a decentralized manner! In this way, if I want to be heard on the Web I cannot write on my blog but I must come back to beppegrillo blog and leave a comment there. I cannot have a Web identity independently of beppegrillo.it domain!
I think Beppe speaks often of “Direct democracy” that is achieved through his blog. Well, this is not at all something new. Instead Beppe Grillo is becoming a leader of a face-less, identity-less crowd that exist only by commenting on his blog. It is not very different from a Prodi or Berlusconi leader whose followers are anonymous identities (you might even have doubts they exist at all).
So, enough criticisms and let start with the (hopefully) constructive part: Beppe, please, invite people who flock to your blog to have their Web presence. Let commenters leave a link to their Web identity (a blog). Place a very visible invitation (in the menubar and on top fo the right column) for visitors to open their own personal blog, with instructions on how to do it. The message could be something like this: (in Italian) “Sono molto contento di vedere cosi’ tanti commenti ai miei post. Ma credo che la forza del Web sia nel fatto che ognuno puo’ dire la sua. Ti invito quindi ad aprire un TUO blog e a postare in esso le TUE idee. Potrai ovviamente linkare i miei post quando lo ritieni opportuno o lasciare commenti con link alle TUE riflessioni sul TUO blog. Io ho tante cose da dire ma sono sicuro che anche tu hai tante cose da dire, e non e’ affatto detto che quelle che dico io siano piu’ interessanti di quelle che dici tu. Quindi ti consiglio di aprire un tuo blog. E’ semplicissimo. Le istruzioni per farlo sono qui di seguito. (e nel seguito alcune semplici istruzioni su come creare un blog in splinder.com, blogger.com, …)”
Another comment I wanted to leave on his blog was about GNU/Linux. He speakes a lot about the power of the new technologies and Internet but a search for linux on his blog returns zero results. I wanted to suggest to Beppe to speak about this alternative in the domain of software. Anyway I hope that in some decentralized way, he finds this post and comments here, here you can leave a link to your web presence.
And Beppe, since you are so intripped (yes, this is not English) with the power of the Web, I’m confident you’ll be able to understand why I (try to) write in English even if I’m Italian.

UPDATE: a comment by Matteo lets me know that Massimo already wrote about it: crea il tuo blog.
“Tutto quello che pensi e scrivi lo ha gia’ pensato e scritto qualcun altro” – Anonimo

Attention Trust and my cloud of related concepts

I was reading an explanation of AttentionTrust.org goals and got a bunch of related concepts on my mind. For now I throw them to you embedded in bold in this chaotic post, in future I guess there will be a microformat for giving semantics to the relationships between these concepts. [I also guess that for most of the concept words, you can lead to the related wikipedia page and find a compelling ongoing description (and probably a greasemonkey script that converts all the words that are no links to links to wikipedia page is already available somewhere)]

From AttentionTrust.org: a Declaration of Gestural Independence:
if the attention I pay to others is valued in proportion to the amount of attention earned by me, then an accounting system is set in motion which quotes something like the social share prices of individual attention.
PageRank of attention, actually better named AttentionRank.
Cyberspace is where the new kind of economy comes into its own. Like any economy the new one is based on what is both most desirable and ultimately most scarce, and now this is the attention that comes from other people.
Attention is scarce because each of us has only so much of it to give, and it can come only from us — not machines, computers or anywhere else.
Unlike the old matter-based wealth, the new wealth is nothing you can hope to put under lock and key. You get it by reaching out into the world.

Attention Economy, Whuffie
Wealth therefore comes to you by expressing yourself fully. The best guarantee you have for attention going to you for what you do is living your life as openly as possible, expressing yourself as publicly as possible as early as possible (hence it makes sense to put out drafts, early versions, so there are witnesses for everything you do.)
free software phylosophy, release early, release often
So the new privacy and the old are direct opposite. The new privacy means having no secrets, which you don’t normally need to have, because little that was previously shameful or had to be concealed is so now…
What people do demand as privacy now is freedom from having to pay attention, not from being seen but seeing what they don’t want to.
daily me / tiranny of the majority
The first move in establishing an open market for Attention was to declare a set of basic rights: Property: I own my attention and I can store it securely in private.
Mobility: I can move my attention wherever I want whenever I want to.
Economy: I can pay attention to whomever I wish and be paid for it.
Transparency: I can see how my attention is being used
These represent our rights as attention owners.
(…) In any case, by virtue of recognizing the above-listed rights, members of the AttentionTrust (both individual and corporate) express their participation in a free, open market for exchanging their attention.

alternative economy, emerging democracy
Like so many Web applications, but on a much grander scale, Google takes what I am looking for (literally my attention) and turns it into a commodity called a keyword, which in turn gets pooled and traded by advertisers and publishers who don’t give me anything in return but do subsidize my use of Google search, my storage in Gmail, etc.
Interesting discussion of what Google company really is (related to the scary list of what Google knows about you).

And yes, I’m paying attention to the post I commented here and, recursively, if you paid attention to this post, I’m asking/suggesting to pay attention to the post I commented here. Are you paying something to me? Am I paying something to you? Is there anyone out there reading this? If not, who is paying who? Well, I guess some answers will come from AttentionTrust.org and for now I just paid attention…

AAAI05: terrific talk by Marty Tenenbaum

AI Meets Web 2.0: Building The Web of Tomorrow Today by Dr. Jay M. Tenenbaum.
Terrific terrific talk, fascinating. I should have podcasted it because you really missed something (except I have nothing to record audio on, would you consider sending me your old mp3 recorder pen?). I was so excited during the talk that I happened to take a photo of almost any slide. Actually the slides were 94 and I photoed 59 of them! Incredible to me as well.
Anyway, you might want to read the slides (pdf) or maybe you want to have a look at my pictures (possibly as a slideshow).
He introduced all the stuff I enjoy, such as Blogs, RSS, wiki (wikipedia), folksonomies, tags, flickr, Del.icio.us, microformats (aka Lower case semantic web), technorati, pubsub, greasemonkey (bookburro, greasemap) and much more; all tied together in a fascinating, convincing, making-sense manner!
After his presentation, we spoke about my research and he seemed interested. He invited me to visit commerce.net for one month or so and I have to say that I really like the idea. I spoke also with Rohit Khare that is actually working with Tenenbaum and he has a whole bunch of very clever, fascinating, realizable ideas that would really make an impact. They also underline more than once that this kind of architecture/language-of-web2.0 projects should be open source and I totally agree with them and like it.
Actually after the presentation, while I was speaking with Marty and Rohit, there was also Jesse Andrews, the creator of the mind-blowing book burro (actually he got most of the attention, totally deserved by the way). I guess it should be too cool having someone presenting your hack on a conference and then go to meet that person and say “You know the Book Burro extension you presented? Well, I’m the creator of it!”. Cool! If you want to see how Jesse looks like, here is a picture of him and wait some more great hacks from him in few days.

Off for AAAI 2005 conference in Pittsburgh

If you happen to participate in the AAAI 2005 conference (and read this post), pass by to say hello. The paper I’ll present is “Controversial Users demand Local Trust Metrics: an Experimental Study on Epinions.com Community” (pdf). Ill be hosted by roder, a (new) friend found via HospitalityClub. Actually I received a lot of offers for hospitality (some via CouchSurfing). And also for hanging around: for example, Violet Law invited me for an Indian party/fundraiser for Indian children on Sunday evening. I guess we can meet there. What a strange, small world?!? ;-)
UPDATE: I just received an email from AAAI organizers: AAAI05 has a dedicated blog and an user on Flickr (monitor AAAI05 tag). W00t!

SocialSearch: risk of moving from “tyranny of the majority” to “the daily me”

On Yahoo!Blog, while presenting its new MyWeb2.0:
The answer a web search engine delivers is what it believes is the correct answer for the majority of users – often referred to as “the tyranny of the majority”. For example, when you search for ‘apple’, the first result on most search engines is Apple Computer. But you may have been searching for information about the fruit or Apple Records.
This is a point I’m making since some years and so I totally agree that this is a problem of current search engines and I totally agree that considering personal trust networks of users is the solution to go (actually this is my my PhD research topic).
But I want also to point out, as I already did some time ago, that on the other extreme (total personalization) there is another, maybe bigger, risk: “the daily me”.
If you only see web sites, opinions, movies, etc of people you already agree with, you will never ever meet new, unexpected points of view, you will never ever need to argue your points with someone that thinks different (and possibly change your mind, at least a little bit), you will simply exacerbates your opinions, you will end up not even being able to understand the language used by people that are not in your “community” of like-minded friends!
If you are an anarchist speaking/reading only other anarchists, you will strengthen your opinions, they will become more extreme. Or if you are a catholic orthodox, or … The same is true for every group: liberals watching and reading mostly or only liberals; moderates, moderates; conservatives, conservatives; neo-Nazis, neo-Nazis. The resulting divisions run along many lines–of race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, wealth, age, political conviction, and more. Most whites avoid news and entertainment options designed for African-Americans. Many African-Americans focus largely on options specifically designed for them. So too with Hispanics

This will produce extremism and fragmentation of society and could have terrible, violent consequences.
The great book of Cass Sunstein Republic.com analyses this risk and more importantly tries to suggest a range of potential reforms to correct current misconceptions and to improve deliberative democracy and the health of the American republic.

First, people should be exposed to materials that they would not have chosen in advance. Unplanned, unanticipated encounters are central to democracy itself. Such encounters often involve topics and points of view that people have not sought out and perhaps find quite irritating. They are important partly to ensure against fragmentation and extremism, which are predictable outcomes of any situation in which like-minded people speak only with themselves. I do not suggest that government should force people to see things that they wish to avoid. But I do contend that in a democracy deserving the name, people often come across views and topics that they have not specifically selected.

Second, many or most citizens should have a range of common experiences. Without shared experiences, a heterogeneous society will have a much more difficult time in addressing social problems. People may even find it hard to understand one another. Common experiences, emphatically including the common experiences made possible by the media, provide a form of social glue. A system of communications that radically diminishes the number of such experiences will create a number of problems, not least because of the increase in social fragmentation.

I think it is time that everyone of us (especially those involved in creating personalized services, and hence in this case, especially Yahoo!) should start thinking about this problem before we are too ahead in the future. What do you think?

Social Search via Trusted Friends (by Yahoo!)

Via Many2Many, I learn that Yahoo has a new gift for us: My Web 2.0 BETA – A Social Search Engine.
On Yahoo! Search Blog there is an introduction to the new service:
Almost two years ago, one of our engineers was interested in buying a plasma TV and tried using web search to find a good site for reviews — a quick search revealed that there were hundreds of sites offering to educate him on plasma TVs, yet short of visiting all the sites, it was difficult to figure out which site exactly was the ‘best’ site. So he did what millions of people do every day – asked a friend, who recommended two excellent sites for plasma TV reviews. He never ended up buying a TV (things just got too busy with search), but this was the moment of inspiration that lead us to build the product we are introducing today – a social search engine that enables people to search the expertise of their friends and community. [Read the rest on Yahoo! Search Blog]
All this trust-enhanced search and filtering and recommendations is what I’m trying to do with my PhD and I’m happy it is really taking off. About technology and metrics, they propose MyRank, as a successor of global trust metrics such as PageRank or the more recent TrustRank.
I didn’t play with it for now. And I really hope that Yahoo! is going to embrace the Open Web with this new service by giving Open API and export facilities (at the moment it seems so and I’m sure Flickr guys are going to suggest the right moves about that).
Ken Norton is collecting reactions from the blogosphere, or you can monitor who is speaking about My Web 2.0 on Technorati or BlogLines.
Otherwise read My Web 2.0 Blog (first post is by our great flickresque friend Caterina Fake).

Presentation on “Trust in Recommender Systems: an historical overview and recent developments”

I was invited by Stefano Mizzaro to give a lecture in his course in “Web Information Retrieval”. I spoke about “Trust in Recommender Systems: an historical overview and recent developments”. It was a lot of fun (at least for me). And I thought I could share the slides with you. They are in OpenOffice .sxi format (it is an open format, so if you program does not read a commonly used open format, you probably better change it). They are released under a Attribution-ShareAlike Creative Commons licence. This means that if you want to use them you just have to give credit to me and re-share your slides under the same licence. If you don’t want to re-share your derivative work under the same Creative Commons licence, you are still free, free of not using them. Enjoy.