[ReadWriteWeb] The Future of Search: Social Relevancy Rank by Alex Iskold

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/future_of_search_social_relevancy_rank.php

The article talks about the importance of prioritizing search result, or stream of posts, not based on chronological order, but based on social relevancy, or social network of followers of oneself and people he or she is following.

What we are about to get is a Social Relevancy Rank. Whenever you search streams of activity, the results will be ordered not chronologically but by how relevant each is to you based on your social graph. That is, people who matter more to you will bubble up.

The author brought up improvement ideas for mainly Twitter, or also for any SNS. Main points are:

1. The result of search query, or the front loaded posts should come initially from the relations to myself. But it limits the result, because not everyone has opinion or information about the search query.

This sounds awesome, but there is a problem. “Wilco” works well as a query because the band has just released a new album, but many other queries would return no results. Simply put, your friends on Facebook and people you follow on Twitter can’t possibly have an opinion on every topic you may be interested in. This is a problem of sparse data: trusted opinions are scarce.

2. Since the trusted result from the level-one relations is limited, expanding the network to include the relations of the relations is necessary. This expansion can also be based on likeness of people even outside of the relations.

Another step could be to include people with similar tastes, so-called taste neighbors. This approach is common among vertical social networks such as Last.fm, Flixster, and Goodreads. These networks have ideas about which people, other than your friends, are like you. However, this is a costly calculation and takes time.

3. Using the number of followers as a measure, a few of the relations can be titled as opinion leaders or the influencers among the crowd. Give higher order to their opinions in the search results or the stream of posts.

In the absence of any other metric, someone who is followed by hundreds of thousands of users is likely more relevant to you than someone you don’t know at all. Using number of followers as a weight might be a good way to order the rest of the activity stream.

I think this relevancy rank can improve what Twitter, or stream based publishing systems have been good at. For their currently chronologically ordered search results of stream of posts to be more useful or more easily to be found and processed, the additional sorting mechanism based on this relevancy ranking is crucial. Depends on the level of openness of the service enabled by APIs, the application of this system may come much quicker and may be developed to become superior service than the original.

[Darren Rowse] How I meditate – Examen

http://www.darrenrowse.com/how-i-meditate-examen

I often find it very meaningful for a professional to share his or her belief and how he or she practice it, especially if the professional is not in the field of ministry. Though it is hard to ignore his ministry background, Darren Rowes; the Problogger, shares his personal method for meditation, or Examen.

The meditation is actually an ancient one – it’s called Examen of Consciousness (sometimes just called Examen) and it was developed by St. Ignatious Loyola (that’s a picture of him below – I think he’s blogging).

Examen a Christian meditation but I’m sure people of other faith backgrounds could use much of it with some modification and that even those who don’t practice any religion could benefit from some of the exercise too. I’ll write it up primarily as I practice it (I’m sure there are many variations) and from the Christian perspective but do feel free to adapt and fit it to your own situation.

The point of Examen is to find the movement of God in our daily lives as we review the day that we’ve just had (or are having). As a result I find that it’s best to do at the end of the day (I quite often use it in bed and fall asleep part way through).

I can’t help but consent more with the everyday Christians who are trying their best to diminish the line between non-spiritual or spiritual. In case of Darren Rowes’ understanding of meditation, he loves it because it’s not overly spiritual, but practical activity which can help him to get “a space to process and deal with the crap that life can throw at us and move forward.”

I’m very aware that this meditation comes from a spiritual (and Christian) perspective (although it’s also very grounded in day to day life) – however that’s the perspective I come from so it’s all I’m really able to authentically share.

As I mentioned above – if you don’t share my faith background I still think that much of it can be helpful. Stage 4 in particular is really useful for reflection. As I mentioned in the ‘note’ above – the practice of just setting aside time to think about how you live, react to situations and to notice the patterns that you slip into can be an enlightening one.

I love this meditation because it’s not overly ’spiritual’ and is quite practical. It does force me to stop, still myself and just ‘be’ for a few minutes each day but I find it also challenges me to work on aspects of myself that are slipping and also gives me a space to process and deal with the crap that life can throw at us and move forward.

I left this comment: “Thank you for sharing insightful post. Even though how everyone is different, uniquely created by God, there is some common sense when it’s about the relationship and communication with God. I was gladly surprised at how you described the purpose of meditation from the “Examen”, reviewing perspective. I do learn a lot from your work and personality. God bless you for your beautiful work in blogging and other meaningful missions.”

[Stepcase Lifehack] Scrum for One

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/scrum-for-one.html

This scheme is exactly what I need for developing my project. Step by step toward each small but important goal.

Scrumming Solo

Seems to me that, with a little modification, those are pretty good principles for anyone with some big projects on their plate – especially if you, like me, have a tendency to get side-railed. Of course, most of our projects aren’t collaborative, and they’re rarely as compartmentalized as computer programs, either. The idea of developing a project by evolutionary steps, with each step creating a potentially usable end-product, simply doesn’t apply to the kind of long-term projects most of us have as individuals – things like writing a book, learning a foreign language, or earning a promotion.

But the idea of Scrum is, I think, very applicable to our personal lives. The whole point is, through a process of constant self-awareness, to identify what’s holding us back, how we can work around it, and where the next few days or weeks should take us. Consider, then, “Scrum for One”:

  • Do what you can with what you have. There are bound to be hang-ups in any project worth doing, and it’s all too easy to look at a project and despair because you don’t have whatever you need to finish it. Well, you may not have what you need to finish, but chances are you have what you need to start, to do at least some of the steps needed to get yourself somewhere close to the finish line. And you can take heart from this peculiarity of Scrum: often, when working under less than ideal circumstances without all the necessities to finish a project, Scrum teams find that either a new solution emerges that’s much more within their grasp or, just as often, that the missing element isn’t really needed in the first place. At the worst, you’ll give yourself the time you need to come up with the missing piece – and meanwhile you’ll be moving inexorably closer to your goal.
  • Constant self-reflection. If you’re a fan of Allen, Covey, or Drucker, you’ve probably already accepted the importance of a weekly review. Scrum for One suggests that more frequent reflection might be helpful – nothing at the scale of a full weekly review, but a few moments of honesty each morning to define the work in front of you and any problems that might be standing in the way. Brainstorm a few minutes to see if you can solve the issue, and if not, put it in your to-do list for later action. A lot of time, just asking “What’s standing in my way?”is enough to trigger a solution – more often than not, the problem lies more in ourselves than in our situation.
  • Work towards clearly-defined, short-term goals. Give yourself a time limit and set a reasonable goal – reasonable, but meaningful – to reach by the end of that period. Projects that stretch out in front of you for months or years are discouraging (which is why so few people write books) while projects that are too small often aren’t very satisfying to complete.
  • Sprint. Sprinting the way Scrum teams do it won’t really work for individuals – you probably have a lot of different roles to play on a day-to-day basis, which means focusing on a single project to the exclusion of everything else is going to be difficult, if its even possible. What you can do, though, is block out a number of hours every day and use them to focus strictly on one project – no distractions, no knocking off early, no nothing until you reach your goal.

[ProBlogger] 5 Ways to ‘Systemize’ your Blogging

http://www.problogger.net/archives/2009/06/15/5-ways-to-systemize-your-blogging/comment-page-1/#comment-4751292

My schedule is not ideal for many people, but remember—I’m not married, not (currently) taking classes, and don’t have a day job. I maintain a midnight-7am schedule for blogging because that’s when I’m able to focus without being distracted—no matter what. I may be able to work undisturbed during the day every once in a while, but by choosing a time to work that is consistent has led to my building a habit around this time. My body now knows at midnight that it’s time to focus, crack down, and produce. Habits are a great “system” to have in place because they can help force efficiency and effectiveness in everything. Get in the habit of writing at least once a day, and start building good habits around your blogging “business” as soon as possible.

I just can’t help but agree, based on my own experience, observation on myself, I need to build the habit around the specific range of hours which enable me to focus and produce.

The ultimate goal of systematization is not necessarily automation—though when executed deliberately and correctly, automation can be a welcome hand in your business’ operation. By systemizing your blog, you are able to begin working “on” your blog, not “in” your blog—to borrow from a popular business expression. Sure, you need to provide great, original content, but understand that there’s more to blogging than what you type (unless, of course, the blog is for your eyes only!)

Since I hope to make this blog open to the viewers and earn enough money to support my autodidactic plans, I must develop professional skills to manage the blog to be a real business.