Year by year, the flood of content is rising all around us: television channels, books, music and the Internet - where not only traditional media but millions of individuals are adding content. So, in this flood, how do you find the content that matters to you? How do you discover multimedia information and entertainment in ways that suit you personally? Isn't there an easier way?
European Microsoft innovation center (EMIC): overcoming information overload and ‘the crisis of choice'
Finding what interests you doesn't have to be an accident. A Microsoft research team in Germany is addressing, within the research project MyMedia, the key social problem of information overload and what has been called ‘the crisis of choice' - by jumping beyond traditional recommender systems which are based on a single multimedia source. Instead, the European Microsoft Innovation Center research project provides recommendations to you that are integrated from many sources. As the user, you personalise the system by indicating simply that you like a particular video or audio-cast, and the system will find similar content and even learn from you what you like – the more you use it, the more it learns your preferences.
“We think personalisation is a very interesting research area with direct benefits for users. Each collaborator in the MyMedia project brings great experience and unique capabilities and we’re very excited to begin this project.”
Tim McGrath, MyMedia Project Coordinator, European Microsoft Innovation Center (EMIC)
The MyMedia Dynamic Personalisation Framework is a collaborative research project organised under the EU Research Framework Programme and involves the European Microsoft Innovation Center, the BBC, BT, Microgénesis, Telin and the Universities of Hildesheim and Eindhoven.
The resulting system will allow easy integration of multiple content catalogues and recommender algorithms in a single system and provide technology for userranked content. The system will learn user preferences and enable the sharing of recommendation results with friends and family while observing privacy and security protocols. The technology will be evaluated on its effectiveness and user-friendliness in a variety of cultures and languages via scientific analysis tools and field trials in several European countries.
Here's a scenario that illustrates what the European Microsoft Innovation Center (EMIC) and its partners will enable within the collaborative research project MyMedia:
Carin is a scuber diver and is planning a vacation to the Balearic Islands for a diving vacation. One night she notices a documentary on the Balearics on her television programme guide. She watches the show and uses her media system, which is based on the MyMedia framework, to express her preferences for more content like this in both English and Spanish. The system returns a set of choices that includes both professionally created content and user created content, ranked according to her preferences – so content about local dive spots is ranked higher than content about local discos.
After a few days of viewing, Carin has a well-tuned content set that she decides to share with her diving community on their social networking site. The MyMedia components make it easy to share this specific set of preferences, but not her prefer- Overcoming information overload and ‘the crisis of choice' ences on other topics. Juan, a member of Carin's dive community, sees her posting and sends her his set of preferences about diving in the Balearics, which contains some new content on environmental issues which Carin decides to incorporate into her own preferences. One of the new sources ‘rents' its content and Carin likes what she sees so she keeps it for a rental fee. Another of the sources is free but uses her preferences to include advertisements relevant to her interests in scuba diving on Majorca. In the following weeks, Carin watches and listens to several more programmes about her focus area.
On her return from her diving vacation, Carin uploads digital videos of her dives onto her favourite community video site. Using new metadata components from MyMedia, she easily tags and annotates her content. These metadata and tags are also automatically included in her set of preferences and the preferences she had previously uploaded to her dive community site. Others on the site who have subscribed to her ‘virtual channel' through the preferences she shared with them can now see the content from her diving vacation.