When I Wanna Know What You Think I’ll Tell You
Just kick back and let the software decide
When you’re looking for some new music to listen to or a movie to rent, nothing beats the recommendation of a good friend. Except maybe a recommendation system. Yesterday a friend mentioned the music site Pandora while I was spending some time pretending I’m not addicted to Facebook (which uses recommender tools itself). Ironically, because of the consulting work I do, I often find myself telling clients to use things I don’t have time to use myself, and Pandora’s a good example of one of the things that you don’t know you’ll be using next year, but that you’ll be more familiar with than I am by the time it becomes pervasive. Recommender engines and software have been in use for some time; the most familiar version being the Amazon “if you like that, maybe you’ll like this” feature. What’s new in this field is that they’re getting REALLY GOOD at it. Something that used to be almost annoying will become something you actually demand. Why? As this CNNMoney piece puts it we’re “…leaving the era of search and entering one of discovery. What’s the difference? Search is what you do when you’re looking for something. Discovery is when something wonderful that you didn’t know existed, or didn’t know how to ask for, finds you.” With Google getting more and more spammed out every day, our mental processes getting more and more externalized, and our lives getting almost over-connected, I for one welcome our new media-recommending overlords. They just have to iron out that little Napoleon Dynamite Problem, and we’ll be all set (here’s a more in-depth look at problems faced by recommendation tools if you’re interested). So hey human, can you recommend a good book?