Defined rating systems,
and Google +i

NOTE HXA7241 2011-07-17T09:08Z

Rating systems – like up-voting buttons for news-blogs – have a problem: what do they really mean? They seem too vague. Rating probably ought to be more clear and articulated.

To be informative requires saying something that could be wrong (if you do not have to think whether you are making a good or correct assertion, such an assertion has practically no meaning). And to do this in an interesting way requires statements/assertions with sufficiently rich structure.

A rating must rate some thing. It must represent, or measure, an at least semi-defined objective thing. Rating should produce data, and if there is no definition – no abstraction – at all, there is no data.

The easy-to-measure things can be done automatically, with sensors or algorithms etc.. The harder things must be left to humans. But the difference in harder things is not having no structure – of being entirely irrational, aesthetic, etc. – it is being semi-structured. The difference is merely in what is currently technically automatable.

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And it appears that Google not only understands this, but is somewhat ahead: they have been developing a sophisticated system based on complex analysis, as an extension to their +1 button. ‘Project Argand’ (as it is known internally) is almost ready to go live, as the Google +i button.