Looking for more help deciding what camera to buy, where to dine in a strange city, what movie to rent, or whether you really should purchase that new Decemberists CD? Sure, there are plenty of ways you can already get advice via the Internet — customer reviews and the like.
But maybe there’s a smarter way. And what might that smarter way be? Let’s, um, call it a Hunch.
Hunch is a new (in-testing) site designed to help users make decisions. The site combines math and computer science with the power of the mob — the views and preferences of its users — to provide guidance. According to the service’s fact sheet and this CNET review, the more people use the site, the smarter it gets.
“After asking you 10 questions or fewer, Hunch will propose a concrete and customized result for hundreds of decisions of every kind,” the fact sheet explains. “User contributions train Hunch to be smarter overall. Contributions can take many forms, from correcting a fact that Hunch got wrong, to suggesting new decision topics to feature, follow-up questions to ask or decision results to propose.”
Also: “The more Hunch learns about each individual user’s personality and preferences, the better Hunch can customize decision results for that user. It’s like a friend getting to know someone’s taste and preferences over time, so they can provide sound and trusted advice.”
Hunch just recently became open to the public, and I just signed up to give it a test drive. So I don’t yet have any personal experience with the site. But I think the system offers interesting possibilities for higher education. Could a customized Hunch-like algorithm be developed to help students better select their college, their major, etc.?