Phi Beta Cons

Intellectual Diversity Mechanism

An interesting email I received linking to a blog entry about about diversity is worth repeating. The entry cites a book service called LibraryThing.com, a cataloging system for small libraries. More:

One of the features that has been available on LibraryThing for some time is a book suggestion service, similar to what you can find at Amazon.com and other online booksellers. These suggestion services, based on the behavior of all the users of the site, will tell you, “If you liked book X, you’ll almost certainly like book Y.” Simple, straightforward, and helpful.
But LibraryThing has now gone a step further: it has created a kind of anti-recommendation service called the
UnSuggester. Enter a book you like and it will give you a ranked list of “opposite” books that you almost certainly will not like. These “unsuggestions” are based on the behavior of thousands of LibraryThing members and on the millions of books that they have entered into their catalogs….
But wherefore this exordium? Because this is about as thought-provoking an exercise as one could wish for in a residential college setting. I don’t think you can tell much that is important about people by looking at their skin color, or by knowing what neighborhood they grew up in, or by seeing how they spell their last names. But I do think that one of the clearest windows into a person’s soul is the contents of that person’s bookshelf.

Here’s a link to the source.

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