Friday, May 22, 2009

Why would I settle for the taste of a machine over almost any persons ?

I am not a luddite.  


I have been using computers in my day to day from 1982 on. Helped Go Van Gogh get online, and started an internet business, both in 1995.  I am all for tools of every sort if they improve the quality of life.

But....  letting a programed application be the arbiter of my cultural diet is even more ridiculous than hiring a robot to be a high end chef.  You can program in all the ingredients and measuments, but in the end that robots got no taste to speak of.

I enjoy what I can gleen from Pandora, Last FM, Mog and other sites of musical aggregation.  I adore the shuffle feature, both with Itunes, and LaLa.  I know those intrepid coders are working hard to parse the data of our  recorded choices, whether straight through the app, or by anaylizing our commentary.  I am sure they will eventually come up with a convincing replica of expertise in suggesting/feeding us that which we already like.  But dear reader, I doubt they will ever succeed in bringing that quantum leap that allows us to associate two unconnected things, and recognize the rightness in each, when no conceivable link is perceivable.  

That takes the visceral experience itself.  

"Ah" you say.  "That strawberry is very like Tuareg music".  "What" says the app.  "A strawberry is a piece of fruit, Tuareg music is a genres of electric rock from Saharan Africa.  These things can never be linked".  "Oh" you say. "But the Strawberry also reminds me of sex with Betty Balasko in the back of her mothers Buick sedan.  She was wearing a short short skirt, and we were coming from the store with fresh strawberries and heavy cream for desert, and a Muddy Waters song was on the Buicks radio as we made our pleasure, the boxes of Strawberries jammed on the floor in the back, it's scent mixing with the electric jump blues, echoing up through the years, as now Tinariwen plays on KPFA's world music show, and I eat my strawberry's and yogurt for breakfast."  

Ok so that is a bit over the top.  People turn me on to new things all the time, having nothing to do with Betty's mothers Buick.  And there are even people who consistently come up with gem after gem, jumping genres left and right, just somehow having their finger on the pulse.  Which is exactly what those dear coders are after.  

However statistics are not a replication of life, and the business model on the net is to give you the narrowest possible answer for the broadest possible question.  Otherwise how can their advertisers or the sites themselves sell you a widget, or a gadget.  If you like strawberries, they are going to try and sell you strawberry massage oil, or strawberry jam, a clock in the shape of a strawberry, a strawberry complexion face cream.  They are not going to try and sell you a CD by Tinariwen or Etran Finatawa .

So my dears, as we progress into the brave new web 3.0 world, and the data-mining of user generated content brings on cross selling opportunities for the emergent filter gods of the net, think before you just settle for the pseudo choice you are being offered.  Consider if there is another way to find fulfillment. Like doing the legwork you used to do, before the marketeers tried to relieve you of the guesswork.  The easy answer is not always the right answer. Be the arbiter of your own taste, and share those tastes freely.  It's only their world wide web if you use them as the only filter.

Thats all for now



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