CodeCon is 5/5 today.
The Ultra Gleeper. A personal web page recommendation system. Promise of collaborative filtering unfulfilled, in dark ages since Firefly was acquired and shut down in the mid-90s. Presenter believes we’re about to experience a renaissance in recommendation systems, citing Audiocrobbler recommendations (I would link to mine, but personal recommendations seem to have disappeared since last time I looked; my audioscrobbler page) as a useful example (I have found no automated music recommendation system useful) and blogs as a use case for recommendations (I have far too much very high quality manually discovered reading material, including blogs, to desire automated recommendations for more and I don’t see collaborative filtering as a useful means of prioritizing my lists). The Ultra Gleeper crawls pages you link to, treating links as positive ratings, pages that link to you (via Technorati CosmosQuery and Google API), presents suggested pages to rate in a web interface. Uses a number of tricks to avoid showing obvious recommendations (does not recommend pages that are two popular) and pages you’ve already seen (including those linked to in feeds you subscribe to). Some problems faced by typical recommendation systems (new users get crummy recommendations until they enter lots of data, early adopters get doubly crummy recommendations due to lack of existing data to correlate with) obviated by bootstrapping from data in your posts and subscriptions. I suppose if lots of people run something like Gleeper robot traffic increases, more people complain about syndication bandwidth-like problems (I’m skeptical about this being a major problem). I don’t see lots of people running Gleepers as automated recommendation systems are still fairly useless and will remain so for a long time. Interesting software and presentation nonetheless.
H2O. Primarily a discussion system tuned to facilitate professor-assigned discussions. Posts may be embargoed and professor may assign course participants specific messages or other participants to respond to. Discussions may include participants from multiple courses, e.g., to facilitate a MIT engineering-Harvard law exchange. Anyone may register at H2O and create own group, acting as professor for created group. Some of the constraints that may be iposed by H2O are often raised in mailing list meta discussions following flame wars, in particular posting delays. I dislike web forums but may have to try H2O out. Another aspect of H2O is syllabus management and sharing, which is interesting largely because syllabi are typically well hidden. Professors in the same school of the same university may not be aware of what each other are teaching.
Jakarta Feedparser. Kevin Burton gave a good overview of syndication and related standards and the many challenges of dealing with feeds in the wild, which are broken in every conceivable way. Claims SAX (event) based Jakarta FeedParser is an order of magnitude faster than DOM (tree) based parsers. Nothing new to me, but very useful code.
Note above two personal web applications that crawl or use services of other sites (The Ultra Gleeper is the stronger example of this). I bet we’ll see many more of increasing sophistication enabled by ready and easily deployable software infrastructure like Jakarta FeedParser, Lucene, SQLite and many others. A personal social networking application is an obvious candidate. Add in user hosted or controlled authentication (e.g., LID, perhaps idcommons) …