Signal vs. Noise — How to make decissions

Once again I’m faced with the challenge of how to make good decissions.  It’s not Life vs. Death, not anything meaningful in the scope of the world, but something amazingly simple — where to eat!  Two easy examples where this has been a problem:

Last Night — I’m “stuck” in a hotel in Washington DC with my timezones totally messed up, so at 8pm at night I want a quick dinner.  Chat with the folks at the front desk and they pull out the handy sheet which has a bunch of dining places listed, all for serious $$$ or $$$$ … sigh, I want dinner not a production.   Now I’m down to wandering the neighborhood to find food.

This summer — Was picking up the family at the trainstation in Roseville (near Sacramento) around dinner time.  Since we don’t live in the area, go to yelp to find food… ha!  This is a pure signal vs. noise problem.  I’m faced with hundreded of resturant reviews all with good/bad/etc..  All I want is a short list of four places that are worth going to, instead I find myself spending over an hour sifting through listings…

While the Hotel was doing a good job of trying to help — it’s the right concept, limit choices — I failed in not specifing that I wanted “non production” food ($22 entries are production quality).    In my day-to-day life I have resources like “The Metro” when I want to find a new dining establishment, or maybe I just read movie reviews to find a worthwhile movie to attend.   Where the Internet is failing is that we continue to create site after site which provideds a great outpouring of content and allows the masses to create that outpouring of content, but no filters.

Most of the time I’m not worring about the difference between a 3 star and 5 star rating on a resturant, I just want food.  If it’s date night with the wife and we’re up to spending $$$$ I’m probably more interested in some other details (Parcel 104 vs. Wendy’s).   But, I’ve now watched most of the 4+ star movies at Netflix, so of course I want to watch interesting 3 star movies (once in a while a 2 star action flick).   Presenting long lists of possibilites doesn’t help me decided, it only makes me spend time spinning through lists.

The two services I envision are (I’ve mentioned this a few times to people — if you want to work on it let me know):

Celeberty Food Stops: Just taking all of those food network/travel channel/etc. TV shows and creating a repository of places they’ve eaten.  Many visitors to cities and towns would find it “fun” to eat where Rachel Ray or some other celeb ate.

Guideposts: Not really the Alaska magazine, but similar in concept which is if you’re around HERE (Sacramento) here’s 4 places to go eat/visit.  But, designed more along a travel route rather than a singular destination.  Make it easy, enter a google map and it’ll create a guide book…