I arrived at the Hunch.com site with excitement, having read an interview with the founder, Caterina Fake, where she promised to personalise the internet for me. On choosing to sign up using my Facebook account (which saves loads of time and avoids having to remember yet more account details), you are immediately faced with the fairly startling truth that Hunch will only be able to personalise the internet by having access to some very personal information. At least they challenge this head on and you know where they are coming from, and why.
I was then asked to answer a series of question so Hunch can learn more about me. Some of the multiple choice questions were tricky to answer as my life often falls into the "none of the above" category. However, I pressed on and even found myself choosing to answer more questions than considered essential. It was fun and I was optimistic.
So, at the end of the process I was provided with a set of "top 5" recommendations for lots of (seemingly endless) categories- from books to magazines and cars to credit cards. Whilst I found this mildly intriguing it didn't pop up any surprises and, to be really honest, had a slight whiff of product placement (4 Apple product recommendations even though I answered a question saying I was more of a PC user); stating the blooming obvious (who doesn't like "The Wire"?) and simple wrong calls (the site is heavily biased to East Coast US even though my Facebook profile clearly says I'm British and live in the UK). That said, I will be trying Futura font, Passendale cheese and Walter Mossberg (tech writer) at the next available opportunity. The proof of the pudding will be in whether I like these things.
Hopefully in time the dataset being used to drive the collaborative filtering will become richer and provide more insightful suggestions. The range of suggestions needs to grow and become more localised too. However, for that to work they need to encourage me back. To my mind there isn't a sticky enough element to the offering to compel me... but know they now so much about me, I'm sure they'll find a way.