Just as Google is throwing its hat into the personalized news recommendation ring, the NY Times has an article looking at a variety of recommendation systems and basically concludes that it's tough to have recommendations that actually are all that useful. Some systems, such as those used by Amazon, Netflix and iTunes (all using some form of collaborative filtering) have pretty strong reputations -- but even then, it's amazing just how many of the recommendations people see that simply don't match them at all. The real issue is that automated personalization is an extremely hard problem to solve algorithmically, and it still seems like the "best" ones are only picking out relevant info only a small fraction of the time.
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