I was quite excited to get a copy of Collective Intelligence to review for the PyAtl Bookclub, as I am extremely interested in Artificial Intelligence. I was also extremely pleased to learn that Collective Intelligence used Python, exclusively, throughout the book to explain the author's ideas. There is a certain like minding thinking that Python Programmers share and it certainly comes through in this book by Toby Segaran.
With these high expectations on the table, it would have been easy for me to be disappointed, but the book met the expectations that I had, and in certain situations, exceeded them. One of the great aspects of Python, is that is so pragmatic. In a trivial amount of code, this book explained how to apply unsupervised learning techniques to RSS feeds. I had been meaning for quite some time to write some code that parsed RSS feeds and determined relevant information for me automatically. In Chapter 2, the book jumps right into using the "feedparser" module, to do just that! There are also great examples of using, "urllib2", and SQLite, in that same chapter.
Throughout, the rest of the book, Toby explores various other AI techniques, and explains clearly, how to implement them in Python. One nice touch at the end of the book, was to include a reference to modules used in the book, and to include small usage examples. I was quite pleased by Collective Intelligence, and I would recommend the book to any intermediate to advanced programmer who wants to learn more about AI, and also web specific applications of AI theory.