Findka
essays
About me
I'm Jacob O'Bryant. I use Findka to experiment with new ways of discovering information. I started working with recommender systems during my undergrad at BYU, since I wasn't happy with Pandora's or Spotify's algorithms. I got my bachelor's degree in 2017, worked for a year at Lucid Software, then became a full-time startup founder. I started working on Findka in November 2019.
Besides discovery, I'm also interested in web application architecture and education. Other fun facts: I'm an orchestral clarinetist and a guitarist, I spent two years in Malaysia and Singapore as an LDS missionary, my wife is from Fuzhou, and my theme song is Remember the Name by Fort Minor (clean version). Check out jacobobryant.com for my essays (this one's my favorite).
How the algorithm works
Findka uses an off-the-shelf collaborative filtering algorithm (k-NN baseline), which compares link click data between users to find new essays you might like. I also use a technique I've dubbed "popularity smoothing," which ensures that popular essays don't get recommended too often. And to prevent filter bubbles, a portion of the articles you get are chosen more-or-less randomly (exploration vs. exploitation).
Findka's mission
The way that information flows through society is highly inefficient, which leads to all sorts of problems and missed opportunities. I am convinced that improving discovery is one of the most important problems of our time. If good ideas travel further, it will impact everything—from large societal challenges, like climate change and politics, to personal issues, like career choices and parenting.
If you care about this, let's talk: findka@jacobobryant.com.