Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Gnod

Gnod is fascinating: it attempts to use AI techniques to identify similarities between books, films and music. There are very few details about how it works, but it claims to be driven purely by user feedback. But based on the way the entities dance around the music map, my guess is that it's powered by a Kohonen network. If so, it's the first really useful example of automatic clustering and unsupervised learning techniques that I've seen.

Gnoosic, the music component of Gnod, can suggest bands that are similar to bands that you already know about. Even better, the Music Map component can generate a visual representation of how close various bands are to a source band. As a quick test, generating the map for U2 gives R.E.M, Police, Inxs and Sting as nearest neighbours, which seems pretty good.

Gnod can also generate maps for films (Gnovies) and authors (Gnooks). The data for authors seems pretty good (looking for Arthur C Clarke finds Azimov, Douglas Adams, Orson Scott Card and so on), but the one for films seems to be a bit random (searching for Toy Story returned Once Upon a Time In America as the closest match)

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Joel on Software

Joel Spolsky has had an interesting career, having worked for both Microsoft and Viacom. His blog Joel on Software covers a wide range of things, but his thoughts on software development are pretty entertaining. As an example, The Joel Test: 12 Steps to Better Code is excellent, as is Top Five (Wrong) Reasons You Don't Have Testers.

I particularly liked his programmer's reccomended reading list, which outlines pretty much all the classic texts on software development and user interface design I've ever heard of. It's a good source of brain food.