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Tuesday
May052009

A new decision-making tool enters the stage: Let Simon Decide

Stumbling upon an article on Techcrunch about a new online decision-making platform, LetSimonDecide, I felt nearly transported back to 1999 when my favorite search engine was Ask Jeeves. Like Jeeves, Simon is supposed to be your guide as you sort through overwhelming data although this time rather than help you with search, your guide will help you arrive at answers to your most pressing life decisions.

Unlike its main competitor, Hunch, our positive experience with which we profiled earlier, LSD does not attempt to use collective intelligence to help you reach your answers. Rather, it just provides a structured checklist approach to looking at your problem. I tried out the site today to answer a question that took me months of deliberation many years ago: what should I major in during college?

First, I was asked which two majors I was considering. I entered my choices--Economics and International Relations, but was immediately disappointed. Simon now only could offer a binary evaluation; how much use is that? I was hoping that perhaps my eyes would be opened to a whole new major meant for me that I somehow had overlooked.

Next, I was asked to rank the 5 factors that are important to me in this decision. Then I scored each of those factors from 1 to 5 stars for each major, hit submit, and......calculate, calculate, wait for it.....my answer is Economics!

What a let down. Does the site really think that I'm unable to keep track of FIVE factors as I evaluate a decision? This is the weakness of avoiding a community-based approach in a decision-making platform; the outputs are only as good as my own personal inputs. If my inputs were that great, then I wouldn't need the help! Contrast this with my Hunch experience, where I never mentioned the bank Chase, but still was led to my card of choice.

For those wary of turning to an anonymous crowd to help you evaluate your decisions, then perhaps the structure that Simon offers to approach your problem is for you. From my perspective, if I am just looking to help sort through in my own head different options to a big question, I'll just stick to my standard pen-and-paper checklist approach.

...For the record, I never was able to make a decision on what to study in college, so I ended up with a double-major.

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Reader Comments (2)

For the record, it's a good thing you didn't choose International Relations (at least alone). I think it's a bit of a soft degree in the end having sort of done the double major thing at SAIS (IR and Econ). Better to construct your own degree program to ready yourself for IR rather than read a bunch of silly IR textbooks.

Seperately, I saw you last night at Ignite DC and enjoyedy your presentation very much. I run a free market oriented IT trade association in DC and would love to get to know you better.

Jonathan

May 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Zuck

Hi Jonathan,

I agree. Very glad to have added the Econ major.

Glad you enjoyed the presentation! Would love to chat sometime.

May 16, 2009 | Registered CommenterMelody
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