Sometimes it does seem like a carnival trick: the interwebs and their logarithms churn through the ghostly trail of clicks I left in the ether and produces –– eh voila! –– customized marketing offers.
Amazon makes suggestions based on my recent browsing history.
For instance, if I liked those peculiar clunky European health sandals, perhaps I would like to see these other hideous shoe options?
In a word: almost never. Thanks anyhow!
One friend takes advantage of this Amazonian quirk by logging in as his bride and then not-so-idly perusing dirty adult playthings.
Her next shopportunity is marked by vocal outrage and hilarity.
In a Gibsonian twist, this kooky effort to lure customers to buy more is all math; it's called a recommendation engine. I imagine it puff-puff-puffing trying to get up the hill. (P.S., yes, I know he's Canadian.)
Facebook's friend suggestion of the month came with an unremarkable name and a North Country photo. I looked at it for a solid minute, thinking, really? Could it be? The boy who rode my school-bus all those years ago? The ricketty kid who captured flies against the smeared windows of Mrs. Gamble's Bluebird and ate their fresh-plucked wings in what may have been an attempt to impress the girls on the bus? In truth, it did leave an impression.
Again, wow, thanks anyhow!
And don't get me started on the social media's version of "news."
Oh, heckydoodle, it's too late...Believe that when you see another outrageous story about <fill in the heinous-mingus blank> it's not necessarily happening more often.
Perhaps, once upon a cyber time, you clicked and paused for a nanosecond longer on a story in a similar vein. The recommendation engines chug on.
Fer instance, say, based on your engagement with topics like Zionist conspiracies and homosexual conversion camps, the interwebs figure you will probably gobble up an article about lizardy globalists controlling the weather*.
Whereas in a reasonable** world, you should be sent directly to a discussion of Hanlon's Razor.
(*No links because, duh.)
(**That is, a world organized by me. Which is ironic, since recommendation engines try to sculpt a world to my taste. By way of my pocketbook. Full of ugly shoes and strange neighbors from my past. Sigh.)
Gah, what a tangled interweb have we wrought. Here's me avoiding it.