Will A Psychologist Beat The Computer Science Geeks To The Netflix Prize?
from the moving-on-up dept
One of the key things that we expected would be useful when we created the Techdirt Insight Community, was the fact that our customers would be getting very different perspectives from the members of the community, based on an extremely diverse set of backgrounds, knowledge and experience. The idea was that while it's definitely useful to get the insight of someone who's gone through something similar (such as how to best position a product in a new market), sometimes you could gain a lot from someone who took a totally different view on it. It appears that same thing is happening in other areas as well. Wired has a fascinating story about how the various computer science/math geeks have had trouble advancing beyond a certain point in the Netflix challenge (the $1 million prize for improving Netflix's customer suggestion system by 10%), out of nowhere a management consultant with a psychology degree has been zooming up the charts using an entirely different method than the other leaders. The guy believes that all of the others have gotten into a bit of "groupthink," all using the same basic method -- while he's trying to apply some of his psychology background to the question in a way that he believes will work better in the long term. He hasn't yet passed the top teams, but he's been getting close. No matter how well he ends up doing in the end, it highlights, once again, the value of sometimes having someone from a totally different field take a look at the problem you're trying to solve.