"Getting to know you" nodes (GTKYNs) don't suck. They don't rock either.

Maybe my 1 year of working for Oracle has shaped the way I think, but I see this as a typical relational database / set theory problem:

First, notation (until our browsers and Everything support MathML, we'll have to resort to ASCII): if X and Y are sets, then X * Y is their cross product, and P(X) is the set of all subsets of X.

Let U be the set of all Everything users. Let T be the set of all possible topics for GTKYNs. (A rather large set, but this is set theory...) Let A be the set of all possible answers to any of the topics above. (Again, quite a large set). Define the special element 0 (zero) of A to denote a non-response.

Let the function a be defined as follows: a : U * T --> A, a(u, t)= the answer that user u gave on topic t. Ideally, someone who is interested in the answers that the users give will look at this function and find them.

But the Everything user interface does not easily allow queries on U * T directly. We'll have to settle on one of the following functionals:

  • h : U --> P(T * A), h(u)={(t, r) in T * A: a(u, t) = r AND r != 0} (For every user, associate the set of all (topic, answer) pairs that the user has answered). This corresponds to everyone putting all information in their home node.
  • g : T --> P(U * A), h(t)={(u, r) in U * A: a(u, t) = r AND r != 0} (For every topic, associate the set of all (user, answer) pairs corresponding to all users who answered and their respective answers). This corresponds to long GTKYNs.
Now this becomes an issue of user interface design. If we settle on accessing the database through h, then queries by user ("What is user x interested in?") become easier. If we settle on g, then queries by topic ("What do people think of y") become easier.

I personally find the latter more useful, because I am on Everything primarily to gather information, and not to know people. I am interested in what people think of a particular subject, just like reading a consumer report or review; I don't want to know some particular person's opinions on everything ranging from sex to microwave brands.

Strangely, putting all information in the home node is more "getting to know you"-like than GTKYNs themselves!