The death of coincidence

This article prompted me to think about the death of coincidence again.

I have been thinking about this for some time now and I am not quite sure where this is going, but I think it’s still worth posting. Would be good to hear what people think.

What if Web 3.0 the so-called “semantic web” becomes so sophisticated that there is not going to be any error when searching online; it’s like things are finding us.

What if mobile devices become so sophisticated that people always know where anyone is at any given time.

Will people still stumble across random stuff? Find out things that haven’t been recommended to them based on their cultural DNA? Amazon second-guesses my taste in books and music. Pandora suggests music based on what I like. Will we expand our knowledge and likes or will it be a case of just finding more of the same. We won’t just chance across things we didn’t know we liked.

It’s like life being on shuffle.

Or is the opposite the case, that coincidence is encouraged by connecting more and more people with the same interests?

Matt’s been writing about this a while back on his blog.

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5 thoughts on “The death of coincidence

  1. But is it so much about expecting ever more sophisticated one-dimensional recommendations? Will Amazon be just becoming more and more spookily accurate about suggesting books? Probably. But the real future must surely lie in 3 dimensional profiling and recommendations.

    I want Pandora to suggest to me books, and Amazon point out blogs that might interest me. It should be about your collated browsing and purchasing habits that defines your online DNA. Not individual silo activities.

  2. I agree, but what about the stuff that I don’t yet know I like, freaks of nature, not linked to anything I knew or liked before. You might not know it, but you will like giant squids soon….

  3. But that’s just it…
    I want to read a blog on cheese and then be told that I would probably love Rammstein’s new album, and that I should really read up on the Spanish civil War.

    Collective intelligence should be the thing that leads me to the stuff that i didn’t even know i liked yet. (I already knew that I liked giant squid though…)

  4. I think there are two themes – how individual digital interactions that are (potentially) always recorded actually act like a fingerprint. A totally personal and individual story of who we are. If you spend too much time online (like me), these interactions almost become who you are. You can already get a feeling for this by browsing people’s delicious accounts. Presumably, one day, as records and companies get aggregated into the google / yahoo empire these ‘fingerprints’ will become merged into a true record of our existence. But, even if you have this data, the second aspect is recommendation. I see this a truly deep difficult problem. Most commercial recommendation engines just don’t seem to work (e.g. amazon, net flicks, epiphany in the commercial space…even google seems to be getting worse). They don’t seem to scale, cope with noise and pirates. Even the social-media ones like digg seem to be breaking. The ‘shuffle’ point comes when the right tune plays from your own collection at seemingly the perfect moment, giving a wonderful cathartic feeling of serendipity. I hope I’m wrong, and this can be replicated in media / sites / books / films – but it seems a bit like ‘true’ AI to me. Unproven and maybe unattainable – until we solve something like quantum computing.

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