Last week, with a bit of fanfare, the web site Hunch launched. ‘ I read about it on a few blogs and was interested in learning what it could do. I requested an invite and pretty quickly got an email that gave me access to the site.
Hunch is a site that helps visitors make decisions. You type in a question and then are given a decision making tree for getting to the answer to your question. For example, I started testing out Hunch with the question “What kind of job should I have? ” I then was asked a series of questions related to my indoor/outdoor work preferences, my education level, my willingness to work for the government, and so on.
The results were interesting. The first recommendation was that I work for the CIA. (I did say I’d be willing to work for the government.) ‘ What was most interesting to me was that the wild card answer for my job choice (The results provide three top choices and then a wild card.) was librarian. ‘ Obviously there was something in the questions and how I answered them that demonstrated where my real interests lie.
That’s where the real power of Hunch comes in and why it’s a good technology tool to think about when it comes to teens and library services. ‘ The technology behind Hunch is actually human. ‘ What I mean by that is that users of the site create the questions and the answers. ‘ The decision tree that I was led through for my Hunch question was created by users. And decision trees can be constantly updated as can the results. ‘ It’s crowd-sourcing of decision making.
What makes this interesting within a teen/librarian context is that decision-making is an important developmental asset for teens. Teens need to learn how to make decisions and they need opportunities to analyze how they make decisions. While the answers a site like Hunch provides might be useful to teens, what is even more powerful to consider is what a Hunch site might look like if teens had oppotunities to create the content.
I know that might seem like a crazy or frightening idea – to some giving teens the chance to come up with decision trees for common questions that they and their friends have is a bit scary. But, it’s not really all that crazy or frightening. It’s actually pretty exciting.
Imagine a group of teens in your library who talk about the decisions they are faced with. You and they talk about the different considerations they have to focus on in order to come up with the right decision. You help them to build decision trees that their friends and other teens around the world might access, add to, and revise. Imagine a teen who is struggling with a decision who goes to the web-based decision tree and gets some help figuring out what she needs to do.
And, think about it, the decision making doesn’t just have to be decisions related to life issues. What if teens created decision making trees a la Hunch that focused on making choices for research projects? Imagine teens in your library brainstorming different questions they have to answer in order to make good decisions about how to go about finding information for a project. Teens can develop a series of decision trees related to using research tools. These trees could grow and change as tools and technology grow and change.
I’m pretty excited about the technology behind Hunch as I think it gives those serving teens opportunities to find new ways to help teens grow up successfully and assist them in school-related activities.
For the moment Hunch is invite only. I have a few invites available, if you are interested contact me on Twitter at lbraun2000 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.