June 20, 2009

Neat stuff (or, can't think of a witty title...)

I came across Hunch today while scanning the Del.icio.us homepage. For the indecisive, it can help generate decisions. You enter in various data about yourself in a series of multiple choice questions, which better helps the system match you with what it thinks you would like based on an algorithm. The first thing I did before entering anything though was to check the TOS and look at how it works to make sure it wasn't a marketing ploy. All specific, individual responses are kept private and Hunch only makes money if you click a suggestion link to a third party and purchase what was recommended. This is almost like taking all those lovely quizzes on Facebook (I won't deny I've taken a large number of them, however) about where you should live, what kind of 19th century artwork you would most like, should you get a tattoo, or what decade do you belong in -- except it matches your quiz answers with the algorithm saved about you, which seems to make it slightly more accurate? Safe to say, however, if you have to ask a computer program if you should get a tattoo, you probably should not. It is interesting to see what responses are generated though -- I asked where I should live and what kind of profession suits me, and although it was somewhat accurate, I wasn't fully satisfied. Maybe it will improve the more I use it, or maybe it is just another internet time-waster. It's at least amusing...

Also from Del.icio.us, I found Yenka, which is a database of education modeling software. It's pretty neat -- you can search for animations of scientific, mathematical, computing, or technology concepts to better learn them.

As Closed Stacks posted, later also re-blogged in Swiss Army Librarian, Blind Search is a "search engine taste test" comparing Bing (Microsoft's new search engine), Google, and Yahoo. After seeing the three columns of results, you also then vote for which list you prefer, unbiased. After making your selection, the corresponding search engines are revealed! I've already spent more than a little time at this site -- it's actually really interesting what you wind up preferring. I always assumed I was a die-hard Google fan, but it turns out Yahoo (and a few times, Bing) have turned out a more appropriate list of hits. I should mention this battle royale was created by a developer for Bing, but this item was done in his free time for fun.

Last, for something new in OPACs, I found a link to VuFind on the Zine Librarians listserv. Although not really appropriate as-is for zine libraries, it looks pretty interesting. It's an open source OPAC with web2.0 incorporated. Looks like there are some pretty innovative features.