Isn't what you're talking about a "recommender system"?
This category of applications holds great promise for asynchronous social collaboration about the sorts of things you're talking about.
I've had the opportunity to hear Joseph Konstan of the University of Minnesota & CHI talk about his adventures in this market segment, but I haven't yet read his book, "Word of Mouse."
There's a lot of programming, yes, and there also needs to be a substantial amount of data, yours and others'. The possibilities go well beyond "People who looked at this book also looked at..." I think the intersection of computer-based "intelligent" software agents featuring user-situation awareness, location-awareness, and with data about user inclinations / preferences will bear some interesting fruit in the next several years.
3) Google Local has added a third dimension: space! Now you can search
for a hotel near a certain postal code, which is really great! I love
Google Local! Wow, it can show me all the hotels near the event in a way
that I can quickly interpret, and choose which to contact, in the right
But this isn't enough.. Whenever I sense that something isn't quite
enough, I look at the real world and at how existing systems solve
problems. In the real world, when I want a babysitter, I would ask my
friends: people like me whom I trust, if they can recommend someone. I'd
want someone within travelling distance of my house. I'd want someone
with similar values to mine (i.e. won't sit the kids in front of the TV
all night and feed them chocolate, won't use intimidation or violence...)
There's no search engine that can do this yet, but I've designed a
concept to do this. It adds the following dimensions, in addition to
keywords and locality:
In real life, we all have preferences and prejudices that
influence our buying choices. Do you prefer to use liberal or
conservative businesses, vegetarians, start-ups or established
businesses, businesses that recycle or have ethical policies,
Muslim or Christian or Jewish or ethnic-run? Why not click a few
boxes to tell the search engine?
* Cross-referenced ratings:
What other people think really matters. If a computerized system
is going to do as good a job as asking people who know, it has to
use all the information available. My design would allow people to
rate any service from any provider. These would have to be
filtered carefully to prevent abuse, but this isn't too hard. The
trick will be to use ratings *in context*. i.e. Ratings of people
like me, or who live near me, should carry more weight.
Preferences, locality, and any other socio-economic indicators
should be used to predict the services/products I'd be most likely
to choose myself.
That's it, really. Conceptually, this would be a simple system. Sure,
there would be a lot of programming involved.
Google don't want to go down this route, because they have a strategic
intention to collect as little personal information as they can. I'd
argue that they will *need* to allow people to supply more information
in order to get better search results. They actually suggested that I
have conversations with Yahoo! or eBay, to see if there's more synergy
Anyone from Yahoo! product development on this list?