I love technology, there are so many neat gizmos out there for me to play with. I shop online, watch videos online, purchase music downloads, and investigate subjects online. In the past ten years the products available to me online have increased exponentially, that makes me happy. Or at least it made me happy, now it’s got me quite worried. The other night I was sitting there watching a video on Hulu (U.S. video streaming service) and the commercials came on. The commercials have gotten longer and more frequent, but that is the price we pay for content. I sat through a 30 second ad for a car and then a second one came on. It said:
Of the people who enjoyed the program you’re watching 60% also enjoyed Blah Blah Blah..Would you like to see it, just click on it.
I’m not sure why but it was creepy. It sort of reminded me of that move Space Odyssey 2001 with that computer HAL 9000. And while this is a far cry from artificial intelligence, I can’t help but get the willies when I think there is a program out there trying to guess what I like. In fact I keep hearing that creepy Hal voice saying, “what are you doing Danielle, why don’t you just click on this link I provided for you, I really think you will like this show.” Guess what I clicked on it, and you know what I didn’t like the show. Hulu service aside from being weird and creepy, you were wrong.
I then began to think about all the other services that try to make that guess. When I open my Amazon home page, it lists new products that may work in conjunction with the other products I have bought as well as products that I may want instead of the products I was browsing. I get e-mails from places like Saks Fifth Avenue providing me with a list of products that I may be interested in, this list is based on the products that I bought and the other people who bought it also and what they like. Honestly they’re all terrible, and I thought just because someone else bought it doesn’t mean I would. Itunes has a little section on their Store Home page called “Recommendations for you”. They base it on your library; I haven’t found one album that I would want to buy (I mean Barry Manilow, why on earth would I be buying Barry Manilow). But it’s a little off putting that they use access to your library to decide what you may like, I could understand if that is a feature I wanted to see, but you can’t turn it off.
It’s all about up-selling, you want this so why don’t you buy this. I don’t necessarily blame them, but all of them have been wrong. I do feel like it can be an invasion of privacy,
maybe I don’t want companies to maintain records of my lunacy. In the old days if you had a store that you frequented you may want to have a sales person take care of you as a regular. They would pull the stuff that you may like and contact you with sales information. In fact they still do that, and it’s a better service. It’s a person that you communicated your desires to, and who understood you. There isn’t a computer that can get why I like the color robin’s egg blue, but not electric blue because it’s too bright. And maybe there are some songs from the 70s that I like, but not all of them.
The only one that came close was Netflix, and I think it’s because I filled out a survey and they have me rating movies. I volunteered information so I could be better served. The only problem with Netflix is that their content isn’t as great as it used to be. Oh well, nothing is perfect I guess.