Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Paradox of Choice

TED talk by Barry Schwartz

Ever since I saw the TED talk, I find more and more examples that support the idea that limitless possibilities actually cause paralysis. For instance, the rise in popularity of recommendation engines, e.g. Netflix - there are millions of available movies, help me to narrow down my choices to the ones I'm likely to enjoy.

Another example from the New York Times

“The customer walks in the door, and often sees a huge selection of stuff in a multibrand store, and can’t figure out what to buy and ends up buying nothing,” said Paco Underhill, founder and chief executive of Envirosell, a Manhattan-based company that advises stores on shoppers’ behavior.

To maximize the profit per square foot, these retailers have to focus on selling lots of a few items. If you're not limited by physical space, how can you better monetize the Long Tail? Algorithmic recommendation engines (Based on your preferences and/or history, you might like...)? Social recommendation engines (Based on your friends, you might like...)?

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