From the archives: Ringo, the WOM-based music recommendations engine

Back in 1994, MIT’s Media Lab created Ringo—an algorithm-based system designed to automate the process of “word-of-mouth” music recommendations.

Here’s the overview of the project:

Recent years have seen the explosive growth of the sheer volume of information. The number of books, movies, news, advertisements, and in particular on-line information, is staggering. The volume of things is considerably more than any person can possibly filter through in order to find the ones that he or she will like. … We need technology to help us wade through all the information to find the items we really want and need, and to rid us of the things we do not want to be bothered with.

Ringo allowed users to create personal “profiles” where they rated bands on a scale of 1-7. Recommendations were then made to users based upon values assigned by other people of similar tastes — a bit like a crude Pandora or iTunes Genius.

Though Ringo was designed as an “automated word of mouth system,” perhaps most telling in terms of word of mouth findings is the rapid adoption and success of Ringo itself, which achieved 1,000 users in less than a month (in a time before Twitter, modern blogging, or Google) with little to no advertising. The system eventually expanded into movie, website, and community recommendations and amassed such large amounts of profile data from end users that they worked with the federal government to help define consumer privacy protection in the digital age.

While there isn’t a lot of info as to what ultimately became of Ringo, we were able to dig up this article from Seattle Weekly which describes how Ringo became known as “Firefly,” made its founder, Pattie Maes, a millionaire and was acquired by Microsoft in 1998 when the system was integrated into the company’s Passport Web ID product.

Read the original MIT paper outlining Ringo.

email

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.

Featured Downloads

Download: “The Difference Map” by Bernadette Jiwa

We’re big fans of author of The Fortune Cookie Principle and TEDx speaker Bernadette Jiwa, who says that good marketing…

Read More

The first chapter of “The Social Media Side Door” by Ian Greenleigh

Ian reveals the best ways to earn the attention of influential people using social media channels.

Read More

9 Things to Share That Start Conversations

Use the examples in this guide to help inspire ways to make your message more portable and shareable.

Read More

3 Must-Use Word of Mouth Marketing Tools

These tools will help you kick off any word of mouth campaign no matter what topic, industry, or budget.

Read More

The Top Four Tips for Multiplying Your Word of Mouth

These tips can help you get your marketing to do more work without a lot of extra effort.

Read More

10 Ways to Turn Around Negative Word of Mouth

The most effective ways to stop negative WOM with examples from Zappos, FedEx, Dell, and more.

Read More
Get our free weekly newsletter

Join 35,000 brilliant word of mouth marketers by signing up for our free weekly email newsletter filled with actionable word of mouth ideas.

You’ll be blown away by just how good you can be at this.

Never display this again