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Windows on the Web
-- by James E. Powell
The world may soon be your department store. Shopping over the Internet is coming-slowly, but it's coming.
Need a personal shopper? Go to a site that's using software from LikeMinds. Sites using the "collaborative filtering" technology (first patented in 1989) can tailor the types of products, services or information they offer you based on responses from customers with similar likes and dislikes. You rate several products or services; the site matches your profile with those of other customers and presents a list of items based on the "collective wisdom." It's like having a friend telling you where to shop.
"Accuracy is pivotal to delivering customized experiences that are truly useful," said LikeMinds CEO Mark Jacobsen.
You can see a demo of the technology at http://moviecritic.com. You rate at least 12 movies you've seen, and LikeMinds recommends movies you might like.
And then there's Jango, which lets its cyberfingers do the walking for you. Tell the system what you need, and it visits the relevant stores, gathering and organizing product details. After reading the specifications or product reviews and deciding what you want, just click on Buy. Jango takes you to the appropriate store's Web site and fills out the order form.
Jango's developers say the product contacts all stores simultaneously in real time so it gets the latest details. Currently in beta, the service is expected to be available via a free download this summer at http://www.jango.com.