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Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Human Brain Cloud "Game"

The Human Brain Cloud is a terrific simple (and superbly implemented) idea to create word associations. It’s one of those games that is aggregating human intelligence on big scale, making the fun end up in something useful. In this case, you see a single word, and you enter another word that comes to mind which is associated with that word (e.g. the first I got was “fiction” and I entered “novel”, just because that came to mind). Whatever word you entered can then also be displayed to other people playing this. The more of the same words people entered when seeing a particular word, the stronger the association between the two words.

Using this methodology, and by only starting with a single seed word – “volcano” – creator Kyle Gabler now manages to display nice networks like the one above. “This isn’t academically rigorous or anything,” Kyle disclaims on the About page, but it might well be one of those “80% working” things that end up being extremely useful (like the concept of Wikipedia is an “80% working” thing, and it nevertheless turns out great).

What might be nice is if in the future, when the site has grown, one could start to work in a “neighborhood of expertise” (e.g. I could pick “Google” and then start out with the 1000 closest terms in that field).

Note that I’ve sometimes received a “This Account Has Exceeded Its CPU Quota” message, so I’m not sure it will load right for you...

[Via Andy Baio.]


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