Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Multilanguage folksonomy

Phew, multilanguage tags are really a challenge. To design a reasonably efficient tagging system is already challenging enough, especially when it comes to generating A. tag clouds and B. related tags. We have optimized point B by keeping a table of cotags along with their valence, i.e., given a tag X and a tag Y we store how many objects are tagged with both X and Y. This only helps to find related tags for one specific tag. Note that this list of cotags is symmetric, so we can save half of the storage. For a tag combos one would need an analoguous table with n-tuples, which would get REALLY huge even though this n-tensor structure is only sparsely filled.

And yet I'm ignoring tag clustering which has to be computed offline due to it's high complexity. But apart from the computational effort there are some conceptual issues to be taken account for sites offered in several locales. So far we have 4 languages: english, spanish, german and catalan. Users from different countries will most likely tag the objects (in our case groups and venues) in the language that the website is shown to them. So the tag cloud would probably simultaneously contain tags such as "arts", "arte" and "kunst", which unnecessarily blows up the tag cloud.
Also an english-speaking user looking for "arts" would like to find venues which have been tagged
with "kunst" by some german user.

See some ML tags in action here (not that the language you specify in the browser will be detected):

A straightforward "solution" would be to keep 4 different sets of tags, one for each language. Then the tag cloud would not be contaminated by foreign tags, but the problem mentioned above would not be solved. We have decided to store for each tag the name in each of the 4 languages. If a user tags a venue with "arte", it will not be tagged in a multiple way if it has been tagged with "arts" before since it refers to the same tag. Now comes the difficult part. This relies on the tags to be already in translated form in the database which is a somewhat unrealistic assumption if there are no complete dictionaries for translation between all languages available. If a new tag appears it will be inserted in its raw form, i.e., in only one language and has to be translated by hand. One might try to let users participate in this process and let them translate certain tags into their own language. This would even result in a collaborative generation of a tag dictionary and would be a good candidate for a open public project.

Another thing to mention is that the indices of the DB grow considerably, since for SQL statements as

SELECT id FROM tags WHERE en='arts' OR de='arts' OR es='arts' OR ct='arts';

a multi-column index is required. Tags may be extremely convenient and intuitive for the user, but I'm really surprised how much care is needed to implement them in a most efficient way.

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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Groups support in Lovento

No good community without a decent group feature. We have added many new features to the site recently, the main one is definitely the group feature, which allows members of the group to start group discussion threads and share a list of interesting venues and events.

The creator is automatically the administrator of the group, and set up the privacy options. However, he can also promote other members to be managers or even admins of the group as well. Have fun!

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Lovento page re-launched today!

We have been very busy the last weeks to convert the site to the new design (and admittedly didn't post very much into the Lovento blog). The new site is AJAX-packed, great fun and much more intuitive to use than the old one. We will post more about the new technical improvements of the site soon. Enjoy!! ;-)

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


We would like to thank all our readers and first users from 2005 for supporting us with valuable remarks and comments. The idea of Lovento came up to us in August 2004 and we have been developing and improving steadily since then. We went online this summer. In fact it was fun to look at our early design stages and the earliest ideas and it is hard to believe what has happened in just a little bit more than one year. We are proud to be where we are now, and that we have always wanted to keep the site free not only from costs but also from other barriers. Lovento is designed to facilitate the process of finding independent information about events and venues in your city and this is what we will also focus on in the future.

What are our challenges for 2006? We are currently working on the new design, which will probably keep us busy for a few weeks. We felt that the site is already packed with functionality which should make Lovento Web 2.0 compliant, the design was still from the previous century though.

The main challenge will be to further push forward the ideas and spirits of the current silent web revolution. Web 2.0 is just at the beginning, even if some people already start talking about Web 2.1 and even Web 3.0. There are still so many commercial 1.0 websites which offer a bad service for way too much money, held alive by an enormous amount of advertisement. Many people will understand more and more the beauty of autonomy and their independent role in the web. In the U.S. blogging is already so widespread and considered as important that university teachers give the task of setting up a blog as a homework. In other countries it still covers only a very small margin of the overall web content. The number of blogs is still expected to increase drastically, making more tools necessary to guide the web user to relevant information and keep him away from aggressive advertisements and spam (it is incredible how many comments I had to delete this morning in this blog). More and more users will find their information through other channels than just the brute-force method of using search engines, especially when it is at the beginning not clear what you are looking for. Social services will become more important and be a successful attempt against self-advertisement techniques, since the good users will always by far outnumber the spammers. On services like, digg, riff, wink and lovento
a self-advertiser has bad odds against the masses, it will only sustain if people like the offered service.

I hope that Web 2.0 will more and more liberate the people from the strings of commercial services. I remember a discussion on eHub, Emily Chang's list of Web 2.0 pages, where those new services where criticized about their lack of an innovative business model (it seems that the 99% of the business models consist in gaining web traffic and then putting Google Ads on the page). Who cares apart from entrepreneurs? The people will learn to love their new possibilities of participation and the diversification of information more and more. We are looking forward to 2006 with excitement.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Improving blogger-friendliness

This is just to let you know, that if you would like to post to your blog from Lovento, you can now also choose the blog you want to post to (in case you have more than one). Thanks to a modest little Ajax script, this works smoothly without reloading the page.
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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Sneak Preview!

As some of you already knew, it is time for a new design. Yes, we know, the old design was kind of old-fashioned. We are still working on this, trying to make the interface much easier and more intuitive, but if you want you can already take a glance on how Lovento may look like in 2006. Comments and criticism are, as always, very welcome. Apart from the design nothing will change, don't worry the functionality will stay the same (and it will always remain free). We hope it will be more fun for you to use the site. Consider it as a New Year's gift. :-)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Tags for Venues and Events

We thought about adding tagging for venues and events. However, we already have a well-tested categorization scheme. Since the page is available in multilanguage the implementation of tagging is not straightforward. But if you really really want tags please let us know.

Flickr gallery support

Ok, many of you guys out there already have a nice set of photos on flickr, so why should you upload them again? It is now possible to integrate your flickr gallery easily into your profile. To make life easier for you, Lovento will try to autodetect your flickr username by using your email-address. If this fails you can still set it up manually. Once the setup is successful you will find a small flickr button linking to your gallery.
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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Multilanguage Support

As most of you probably have already found out, Lovento is available in four languages: English, German, Spanish and Catalan. We have finally implemented the detection of language settings, which the user has specified in his browser. If the language is none of the four it will default to english.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Advanced AJAX support

We have done a lot of conversions of pop-up based user interactions to more intuitive AJAX-based behaviour on Lovento. This is probably a somewhat incomplete and inaccurate list, but gives an idea how the user interaction has improved due to these changes:

  • Submitting events is now way easier. One can enter the name of the venue, the event takes places and list of matching venues will appear magically. It is however still possible to enter the basic information about the venue by hand. See our ass-kicking submit-event page.
  • Adding events to the list of favorites. Page does not need to be reloaded. Instant feedback.

  • Adding a user to the list of friends.

  • Removing a user from the friend list.

  • Ratings of special categories.

  • Checking if a username is already in use during sign up.

  • Removing a venue from the list of favorites.

  • When the country is changed in the drop-down box, the list of cities is automatically updated without reloading the page.

  • The XML-list of flickr-photos for cities/user galleries are loaded via AJAX and displayed by JavaScript

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