Design of a Recommender System for Participatory Media Built on a Tetherless Communication Infrastructure
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We address the challenge of providing low-cost, universal access of useful information to people in different parts of the globe. We achieve this by following two strategies. First, we focus on the delivery of information through computerized devices and prototype new methods for making that delivery possible in a secure, low-cost, and universal manner. Second, we focus on the use of participatory media, such as blogs, in the context of news related content, and develop methods to recommend useful information that will be of interest to users. To achieve the first goal, we have designed a low-cost wireless system for Internet access in rural areas, and a smartphone-based system for the opportunistic use of WiFi connectivity to reduce the cost of data transfer on multi-NIC mobile devices. Included is a methodology for secure communication using identity based cryptography. For the second goal of identifying useful information, we make use of sociological theories regarding social networks in mass-media to develop a model of how participatory media can offer users effective news-related information. We then use this model to design a recommender system for participatory media content that pushes useful information to people in a personalized fashion. Our algorithms provide an order of magnitude better performance in terms of recommendation accuracy than other state-of-the-art recommender systems. Our work provides some fundamental insights into the design of low-cost communication systems and the provision of useful messages to users in participatory media through a multi-disciplinary approach. The result is a framework that efficiently and effectively delivers information to people in remote corners of the world.