The nose still knows better than Web 2.0

Several hundred practioners of the many aspects of business intelligence are gathering here in San Diego for this week’s TDWI conference. They know how to clean data, enable fast searches, design insight-accelerating tools and other wonders—and yet no one yet has a reliable metric to score restaurants. We still have to go out and sniff.

You’re now screaming at me: ask your concierge! I did. She sent me to Oceanaire, the Blue Point and several others. But all looked too slick and none smelled good.

Other readers are screaming different advice: look at Zagat, at TripAdvisor, at Google Earth! I did. The online reviews are all mixed—and which ones do I believe? What does the average rating really mean? The written reviews reflect mostly pretension and middle-class angst. Phrases like “they treated us like royalty” too often lead to evaluations like “cooked to perfection.”

This part of Web 2.0 doesn’t work. Nor did it work as Publishing 2.0, or whatever we might have called it back when Zagat ran on paper ballots and hardcopy. Hey, you clever people, create a reliable indicator for restaurant chemistry that I can compare with my own quantified preferences so I can predict my reaction.

I ended up at Candelas. No wait, no drunks, and no obsequious waiter. Just a nice place with delicious food.

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