Is StumbleUpon Good Social Technology?
You may recall or may want to look at my post on Good and Bad Social Technology, http://socialtechnology.ca/wordpress/2010/08/good-and-bad-social-technology/ where having defined social technology as the study, collection and application of tools a person can use to improve their social environment, I went on to write about good social technology, which not only improves the individual’s social environment but is good for the world as a whole, and bad social technology, the opposite, which is bad for the world as a whole. Considering the global social environment, it can be polluted, harmed by the selfish actions of individuals trying only to improve their own situation.
Elsewhere I have suggested that Facebook is bad social technology in this sense, in that it is actually harmful to society. I am not talking about privacy and security issues, I am talking about its effect on the social network. Rather than drawing together people who are genuinely compatible, it makes it too easy to waste time with links that will confuse, distort or not propagate your attempts to pull together network of enjoyable and useful connections.
I am trying to decide for myself whether StumbleUpon might be called good social technology. It seems to me that it might serve to connect strangers who do indeed have common interests, thus pulling together distant people who truly have something in common together, without requiring them to join discussion groups of dubious value. Since people have only a finite amount of time, finding good connections this way might weaken connections which are not either useful enjoyable.
I have not made up my mind about this, but it is work exploring. While thinking about it, I do, of course, actually use StumbleUpon, http://www.StumbleUpon.com/ which is a lot of fun.
About StumbleUpon-like Algorithms
I haven’t figured out or found on the net exactly what algorithms StumbleUpon uses, but I have found over the years that the correct measure for the similarity of two lists of things, e.g. websites two people liked, is the number of matches divided by the number of possible matches, which is the length of the shorter list:
Similarity = MatchCount / Length(ShortestList)
Also, looking for similar people, people with the same interests, or same kinds of page approval as you is all very well, useful for some purposes, but don’t expect to actually like or communicate well with such people. People with too much in common often disagree and often have communications problems.
What you really want to know are people similar to those who like and communicate well with people like you.