Today (Friday May 18th) is Tina Fey’s birthday. It should be a national holiday, the woman is an American gem. She’s smart, she’s funny, she’s cute…she’s perfect! As a present to Tina (she totally reads this blog) we’re putting two links about her!
Every day Ranker puts up a “daily dose of cuteness” picture on Facebook and Twitter. It’s usually a really cute animal doing really cute things. This is a collection of the daily doses that got the most votes, shares, and retweets!
Today, Google announced the introduction of the “knowledge graph”, which introduces facts into Google searches. So now, when you search for an object that Google understands, search results reflect Google’s actual understanding, leveraging what they know about each object. Here is a video with more detail.
At Ranker, we know things about specific objects too, as most every item in the Ranker system maps to a Freebase object, which is a company (MetaWeb) that Google bought in order to provide these features. We know a lot of the same information that Google knows, since we leverage the Freebase dataset. For example, on our Godfather page, we present facts such as who directed the movie, when it was released, and what it’s rating was. However, we also present other facts that people traditionally do not think of as part of the knowledge graph, but are actually just as essential to understanding the world. We tell you that it’s one of the best movies of all time. We also tell you that people who like the Godfather also tend to like Goodfellas, the Shawshank Redemption, and Scarlett Johansson.
Is this “knowledge”? These aren’t “hard” facts, but it is a fact that people generally think of The Godfather as a good movie and Gilgi as a bad movie. Moreover, knowledge about people’s opinions is essential for understanding the world in the way that the “Star Trek computer” that is referred to in Google’s blog post understands the world. Could you pick a college based on factual information about enrollment and majors offered? Could you hold an intelligent conversation about Harvard without knowing it’s place in the universe of universities? Could you choose a neighborhood to live in based solely on statistics about the neighborhood, or would understanding what neighborhoods people like you also tend to like help you make the right choice? If the broader mission of a search engine is to help you answer questions, then information about people’s opinions about colleges and neighborhoods is essential in these cases. The knowledge graph isn’t just about facts, it’s about opinions as well. Much of the knowledge you use in everyday reasoning concerns opinions, and if the internet is to get smarter, it needs this knowledge just as much as it needs to know factual information.
Random observation looking over some of our Ranker pageview trends today. And I figured, why not share?
Here’s a graph showing the traffic to all Ranker “filmography” pages from March 14th to May 14th of this year. These would be lists of all films made by a certain actor or director, like this collection of Goldie Hawn movies or this rundown of the films of Martin Scorsese.
Those “peaks” you see are Saturdays (or sometimes Saturdays and Sundays together.) Search traffic for “filmographies” and lists of movies goes way way up over the weekend. Which makes sense – that’s when most people have some free time to rent or stream films, and research new stuff to throw on.
In and of itself, probably not blog post-worthy. But I’ve brought you here for a reason! Here’s what traffic looks like for the same time period to BIBLIOGRAPHY or author pages. (These are pages listing all the books written by a given author.)
The peaks on this list are in the beginning of the week (usually Monday, but sometimes Tuesday.) So unlike movie fans, book fans are doing most of their research for new titles mid-week. Could it be that book people are putting in some of this time… WHILE AT WORK?!?! Perish the thought. Perhaps it’s easier getting away with loading some new titles on your Kindle during office hours than, say, figuring out which “Hellraiser” films are missing from your Netflix queue? Or people are just finishing up their books over the weekend and then figuring out what to read next once they get to the office.
Ranky chose this list this week because of a list he read on on Film School Rejects. See they said they complied The 10 Greatest Movies of All Time (According to the Internet) but really they got a bunch of movie critics together to choose them. Now, that’s not the Internet…you guys are the Internet and you voted on our list….a lot. Personally, Ranky doesn’t trust people who put Empire Records on their personal top 10 movie list that is clearly a guilty pleasure pick. A lot of these seem to be “safe” choices and the don’t even get Ranky started on the female critics on their lists…Ranky is quite the film snob. However, the fact several critics chose “The Apartment” made up for a lot of other things ( mainly Alison Long and Gwen Reyes choices).
NBC’s trend-setting ensemble sitcom “30 Rock” is wrapping up its sixth season, and remains one of the most discussed shows on all of Ranker. The series currently ranks 17th on our list of History’s Greatest Sitcoms as well as having a strong showing on the Funniest Shows of 2011 round-up. As well, main characters Tracy Jordan and Jack Donaghy BOTH cracked the Top 20 on our Funniest TV Characters Of All Time list. (No Liz Lemon until #35? Come on, gang!)
This many votes on “30 Rock” spanning this many lists gives us A LOT of data to sift through for interesting correlations. And wouldn’t you know, we found one. Namely, fans of “30 Rock” by and large seem to enjoy surprisingly dark film entertainment. More so than you’d think from a show about the wacky behind-the-scenes hijinks on a sketch comedy show that contains this many fart jokes and Werewolf Bar Mitzvahs.
The 2 films “30 Rock” aficionados are most likely to enjoy? You guessed it, “The Deer Hunter” and “Raging Bull.” “30 Rock” fans are… get this… nearly 2000% more likely to enjoy “Deer Hunter” than some schmo off the street, and almost as enthusiastic about Scorsese’s boxing biopic.
Aside from the presence of Robert De Niro, and generally being really really awesome, these films have in common an unsettling, gritty outlook, not to mention protagonists who may not always be relateable. It’s kind of hard picturing people sympathizing with Jake LaMotta’s violent temper and fits of jealous rage, then switching over to chuckle at Jack Donaghy’s doppelganger, El Comandante. Yet that’s apparently just what’s happening.
Grab some Sabor de Soledad, niños, cause we’re gonna watch Bobby D get tortured in a Vietnamese POW camp.
It doesn’t stop there. We also noticed that some of “30 Rock” fans’ favorite film and TV characters are not what you’d expect from people who can’t get enough of Kenneth Parcell’s down-home folksy wisdom. For example, aside from Liz Lemon herself, and “Arrested Development’s” Buster Bluth, the most popular fictional character among “30 Rock” fans is Kurt Russell’s Snake Plissken from the John Carpenter “Escape” movies. Now, granted, those movies are sort of funny, but not quite in the same way that “30 Rock” is funny. Although both projects do involve a love of shoddy greenscreen effects:
Sarah Connor from “The Terminator” films also wins surprisingly favorable reviews from loyal “30 Rock” viewers. No word on whether they like the more girly mall-rat version from “The Terminator” or her later, tormented and also super-buff self. Maybe we’ll dig that up for a future post.
Ranker has added something new to our lists! What can we say…we like to spoil you rotten with new and easy to use features. This new feature is List Criteria. Have you ever been on a list and wondered “how did they decide this thing should be on this list?” List Criteria answers that question for you.
Now, when you make a list you can easily tell people the ground rules and criteria you used to select your items. For instance on this list:
Arial Kana decided to use live performances that are currently running in L.A. So, if you really loved West Side Story at the Pantages and you wanted to put it on this list you couldn’t because it’s not currently running. If you love Billy Elliot you could add it because that is currently at the Pantages. Get it?
It’s a great way to clarify your list and help others add relevant content. Maker sure you sue List Criteria and let us know what you think of it at email@example.com.
In a previous post, we talked about a bit about how Ranker collects users into like-minded “clusters” that allowed for statistical analysis. This method is how we were able to look at “Game of Thrones” fans and figure out other shows, characters, games and movies they might like.
Now, let’s dig a bit deeper into how this analysis works, and what sort of things we can learn from it. Essentially, breaking down the users who vote on our lists into clusters of people with similar taste lets us predict how fans of one thing will feel about some other thing.
We use the advertising term “Lift %” to represent this idea, but it basically boils down to an odds ratio. We’re measuring the projected increase in someone’s interest level for something, based on their preference for something else. Therefore, we don’t even just have to compare fans of one show to another, or fans of one movie to another. Sure, we can tell what TV shows you’ll probably like if you like “Game of Thrones,” but we can also tell what people you’ll respond to positively, or what websites you prefer, or your favorite athlete.
For another example, let’s look at the 1998 comedy-drama “Rushmore.” Along with “Bottle Rocket,” this was really the film that made Wes Anderson a household name, and also contains one of Bill Murray’s most beloved and iconic performances.
The first big trend we noticed among this like-minded cluster of “Rushmore” fans was that they tended to like other comedy films, too. Which you’d sort of expect. Except these fans tended to prefer classic comedies to more contemporary films. In fact, all of these films had a greater “Lift %” among “Rushmore” fans than any films made in the 1990s, when the film actually came out:
“Dr. Strangelove” (1964)
“The General” (1926)
“Modern Times” (1936)
“The Lady Eve” (1941)
“A Night at the Opera” (1935)
As well, all of these films had a Lift % of OVER 500%, which means someone who likes “Rushmore” is 500% more likely to enjoy, say, “A Night at the Opera,” than someone who is ambivalent about “Rushmore.” That strikes us as statistically significant. (The numbers are even higher the further up the list you go. A “Rushmore” fan is 1000% more likely to enjoy “Dr. Strangelove” than a random person.)
From what we can tell, it works the other way, too. “Rushmore” is the most popular overall film among “Annie Hall” fans and #4 overall among fans of Charlie Chaplin’s “City Lights.” Exactly WHY Wes Anderson’s coming-of-age dramedy scores so well among lovers of old movies is up for debate, but the correlation itself is not, really, based on the numbers.
We’re continuing to develop and fine-tune our reports, of course. And it’s worth remembering that we get the BEST results on popular stuff that gets voted on all the time. It’s not too hard to tell what kind of music Jay-Z fans will like (though we’ll save that for another blog post), but we won’t do nearly as well for Captain Beefheart fans. Yet.