New! The Tremors Experiment

June 19, 2009 – 3:15 pm by andrew scott

At Rummble we’re desperate to help you find the best places to go, wherever you are in the world – and it’s a big problem. The irony is, all the information we need is out there – the challenge is harvesting it in a meaningful way. So we’ve launched an experiment, nicknamed Tremors.

A good example is we’d noticed that people often Tweet not only where they are but whether that location or venue is good or bad. It didn’t take a genius to realise that if you could match the tweets to the venues AND understand the meaning of the tweets, you could do a couple of really useful things: Firstly you can use this information (which is essentially a mini-recommendation) to rate the venue. Secondly, we could begin to build a trust network for each twitter user, which over time would build trust relationships of taste between the users who like the same venues.

Being massively under-resourced like all good start-ups, we hesitated to divert time away from the core Rummble product (especially as we know there is so much to improve with Rummble) but eventually we gave in and bunch of very long days and a manic weekend later, our new experiment “Tremors” is live.

Currently it works for London, New York and Austin and tries to match tweets to venues, based upon fuzzy word matching, the general location the tweet came from and then tries to work out if it was a positive or negative comment. It’s far from perfect but for a few days work we’re pretty proud of it!

It turns out that its actually a very challenging problem to solve; the majority of tweets do not have a location, those that do its usually very general. People spell places wrong or don’t give a full name. Writing styles and short hand or text-speak is hard to decipher, and there’s also the sheer number of tweets to analyse – throwing away most of them because they’re nothing to do with a venue at all!

So don’t expect it to get everything right – it’s a very early alpha experiment and as we can find time or have more resources in the coming months, we’ll hope to improve the accuracy and expand the coverage.

Please have a play and let us know what you think! You don’t need a Rummble account to use Tremors, but if you login with your Twitter account (or you can use an existing Rummble account) we’ll follow you and we’ll start building a trust network for you, so in the future you can see who else on Twitter you share the same tastes with and trust the recommendations of. Please give us feedback.

Next up: support for San Francisco.

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