Youlicit – New & Improved! (once again)

December 18, 2007

So what’s been keeping the Youlicit Team busy until wee hours in the morning for the past few weeks? We’ve been preoccupied with releasing a new version of the website based on much of the feedback we’ve received from you.

The first change you will notice is the new look we’ve given the site. The main goal was to help you find other Youlicit users more easily and improve the level of interaction between you and them. You can now find similar users, users interested in certain topics and users desperately trying to be your friends and keep up with what they are recommending at all times.

The second major change was overhauling our infrastructure to provide you with a faster and more responsive level of service. You no longer have to endure painful seconds of watching the little icon on the top right corner of your browser churn away as your favorite recommendations are now being served up to you faster than you can say “Hey Mom! Check out this new site I found!”.

These are just some of the many surprises we have in store so stay tuned! As always, we’re aching to hear from you, so leave some love.

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Search and Social Networking

November 5, 2007

With Hakia releasing a new social networking feature on their search engine (see entry in Read/Write Web) and Google sponsoring OpenSocial, clear strides are being made to integrate the search and social networking spaces. To many, including us, this almost begs the exclamation “About time!”

Social networking, for the most part, has been built around imitating (and hopefully positively effecting) the physical relationships we already have in the real world (think LinkedIn, Friendster, Facebook). Only very recently has progress being made in linking people based on their interests (think StumbleUpon to a degree and third party applications like uPlayMe, etc) and now with the recent announcement of Google’s OpenSocial we expect this to accelerate the development of a richer, more meaningful social networking experience. There is still significant work that needs to be done in terms of connecting us to people we ought to be connected to. This is why we at Youlicit are excited about the “Meet Others” feature on Hakia which is being called a “peer-to-peer transactional platform” and are further building upon this concept at Youlicit.

Richard McManus poses an almost rhetorical question on his blog entry asking if search and social networking go together. We believe that the purpose of a search tool is to help you find the information you need with the least effort possible (see Relevance/Effort metric). To this end, if there is someone who has, and is willing to share, the information or expertise you are looking for, then what better medium to connect you to him than that in which you already go to find your information. Granted there is a spectrum of modes that different users fall into depending on their personality types (and time constraints) ranging from solitary to the very social (as pointed out by Charles Knight in his blog). In the end everyone can and wants to benefit from accessing the information (and people) they need as quickly as possible. This is why we are including “Related Users” for every query you perform on Youlicit (this feature is soon to come and can currently be seen on your Personalized Recommendations and User pages). We are using this as a base to build out a social networking aspect to our website recommendation service.

As you read this, we are working hard to better determine what users are interested in as well as allow users to share with others what they are recommending on a certain topic. The end goal is to become an enabler of collaboration between users to better facilitate the discovery and sharing of information. Building a social network based on your real world relationships with people you already know can help improve and extract more value out of those relationships but isn’t the most effective means to introduce you to other people you ought to know. A higher value social network connects you to people who share your interests and can help you not only discover the information you need quicker but ultimately increase your productivity and introduce you to more “meaningful” resources in your area of interest (see Expert Systems entry).

This is obviously not an easy feat to accomplish (otherwise it would have already been done!) and there are many hurdles that need to be crossed. How do you learn a user’s interests while safeguarding and protecting his right to privacy? How do you maintain the credibility and quality of such a “transactional platform” (i.e. how do you prevent unwanted information such as spam from diluting the quality of the service)? How do you enable varying levels of collaboration (from direct synchronous communication to asynchronous communication) with minimal distraction and effort from users? How, if possible, do you most optimally monetize such a transactional platform that will incentivize further collaboration?

The creation of such a platform inherently requires the cooperation of users (and of course technology) to make it all happen but we are confident that this is possible and have no doubt that a need for such a platform exists and must be met. As we develop and roll out this platform, we would love to hear your thoughts on this matter and get your feedback on what you would like to see on such a platform.


Youlicit Updated!

August 9, 2007

As you can probably tell from the lack of activity on the blog, we have been busy the last few weeks trying to put in a few updates based on recommendations we received from you guys as well as things we thought would help improve your overall experience. Here are a few of the big ones:

Tag based recommendations: Now you can access Youlicit’s recommendations using tags (or tag combinations) as well as the traditional way via URL’s. The idea here was to allow for easy access to the recommendations if you had a general topic in mind but not necessarily a website URL.

Product recommendations: We have added a new feature that will display any relevant products (for now it is restricted to DVD’s and CD’s) on Amazon related to the website you are querying. For some examples check out the recommendations for these sites –

Import your Bookmarks from Del.icio.us: To help kickstart your experience on Youlicit and we have added an “Import From Del.icio.us” utility that will save your bookmarks on Youlicit and allow you view personalized recommendations based on those bookmarked sites, see related websites and view your interest cloud based on those imported sites.

Updated Toolbar (Coming Soon): As you may have noticed we’ve updated our icons on the website and we are in the process of releasing a newer version of the toolbar with a much better look and additional features. Check back shortly to see when this is launched.


Youlicit’s Personalized Recommendations

June 20, 2007

As you may have noticed, we have just introduced a new section to your account – Personalized Recommendations.  As you continue to recommend sites using the Youlicit toolbar, our recommendation engine analyzes what you liked and builds a personalized interest profile for you and gives you a list of sites that you’d be highly interested.

The goal of this feature is to become the place where you go to get information you’re interested in, effectively your personal tour guide to the Web.  This entails reaching a level of relevance and serendipity with these recommendations that you can rely and depend on these recommendations and repeatedly check this list as your source of information.

We are still testing and perfecting our algorithms to improve the quality and serendipity of our recommendations, but preliminary results seem to be pretty good so far.  As a quick comparison, those of you who use Google Web History can compare the recommendations provided by Youlicit to those that Google provides based on your search and clickstream history.  Give it a shot and let us know what you think.

PS. Be sure to subscribe to your recommendations feed using iGoogle, PageFlakes, NetVibes or your favorite RSS reader.  The RSS URL is: http://www.youlicit.com/RecommendationFeed.aspx?username=<Enter your user name here>


Youlicit Limited Beta

June 6, 2007

As we mentioned in the last post, our mission is to connect you to the people and information you’re looking for.  To that end, we’ve just launched a  limited beta of  Youlicit.  This version currently has in place the bare-bones functionality that we hope to build upon in future releases.  Whether you’re researching a particular academic topic, reading about your favorite sports player, perusing the news or simply reading about an interesting concept, Youlicit gives you instant access to the most relevant and recommended sites on that topic.  In addition to extracting the wisdom of the crowds on the Internet to return relevant results, we have also created a means to identify the most “related users” on any given topic, derived by analyzing the sites they recommend and visit on Youlicit.  We’ve also built the beginnings of a network function that will let you add people of like-minded interests to your network and have them filter the Web for you in an easy, effortless way.

Right now, we’re focusing on enhancing our results quality by fine-tuning our algorithms and expanding our coverage of the web by indexing many more sites. We’re planning future releases with additional personalization and collaboration options to take your Youlicit experience to the next level.  Soon you’ll  be able to broadcast your interests and expertise and have people find you when they’re looking for information on the topics you know about.  Once that connection is made, the possibilities are endless.  We look forward to working with you to make this experience a reality.  We’d love to hear your feedback and suggestions.