Las recomendaciones pueden ser muy malas.

Una de las cosas que nos ofrecen nuestras búsquedas por internet, especialmente en tiendas virtuales de discos, libros, películas, etc, son las recomendaciones basadas en lo que estamos interesados. Pero ésto no siempre es satisfactorio. Por supuesto, esto no es algo nuevo: antes teníamos al librero, al de la tienda de discos, al peliculero, al amiguete (y a nuestra intuición)… Pero ahora todo es a escala global.

Recommendations make life a lot easier. Want to know what movie to rent? The traditional way was to ask a friend or to see whether reviewers gave it a thumbs-up.

Nowadays people are looking for Internet guidance from behavior of the masses. Some of these ‘preference engines’ are simple lists of what’s most popular. The New York Times lists the ‘most emailed articles’. iTunes lists the top downloaded songs. Del.icio.us lists the most popular Internet bookmarks. These simple filters often let surfers zero in on the greatest hists.

Some recommendation software goes a step further and tries to tell you what people like you enjoyed. Amazon.com tells you that people who bought The Da Vinci Code also bought Holy Blood, Holy Grail. Netflix gives you recommendation that are contingent on the movies that you yourself have recommended in the past. This is truly ‘collaborative filtering’, because your ratings of movies help Netflix make better recommendations to others and their ratings help Netflix make better recommendations to you. The Internet is a perfect vehicle for this service because it’s really cheap for an Internet retailer to keep track of customer behaviour and to automatically aggregate, analyze, and display this information for subsequent customers.

Of course, these algorithms aren’t perfect. Wal-Mart had to apologize when people who searched for Martin Luther King: I have a dream were told they might also appreciate a Planet of the Apes DVD collection. Amazon.com similarly offended some customers who searched for ‘abortion’ and were asked ‘Did you mean adoption?’ The adoption question was generated automatically simply because many past customers who searched for abortion had also searched for adoption.

Ian Ayres, Super Crunchers.

Yo no confío mucho en las recomendaciones que me hacen las grandes compañías, los medios o lo que sea. Se siguen para estar un poco al día de lo que se piensa globalmente. La mejor manera es la experiencia, la lectura sin complejos y un buen golpe de suerte (lo mejor que te encuentras en la vida suele ser causa del azar). Para mí la turba sigue siendo peligrosa.

Y turba es una palabra bien bonita aunque no para los políticos.