Thursday, March 20, 2008

Personalized reading

I can't blog much now as I actually have to, um... edit, but my friend Christopher passed this info along and I thought I should share it.

Don't you hate it when you walk into your local independent bookstore and you can't find a thing to read? The staff picks aren't working for you, the new books all look vaguely the same. You're an individual! What do you want? Well... apparently, you don't just want, but need is a system for matching readers to books through an analysis of writing styles, similar to the way that matches music lovers to new music. Do you like Stephen King’s It, but thought it was too long? The technology behind BookLamp allows you to find books that are written with a similar tone, tense, perspective, action level, description level, and dialog level, while at the same time allowing you to specify details like... half the length. It’s impervious to outside influences - like advertising - that impact socially driven recommendation systems, and isn’t reliant on a large user base to work.

Yeah. I don't know about this. I've actually used Pandora before and I kind of like it, but don't love it. And in my previous post, I complained about too many choices, and this would lessen that problem, right? But...

This whole idea of such targeted marketing seems so futuristic as to be terrifying. I don't want a computer to know what I want to read next. I'm not claiming to be rational here, admittedly, but watch the video on the site and tell me you're not freaked out.

I mean hell, I get disturbed when I hear about any science that can predict behavior or occurrence, but isn't it fair to have some concern that there won't be "happy accidents," as my Holga camera promotes? I want to accidentally read something I wouldn't, because I may find pleasure I never would have expected.

In the words of Andy Rooney (and in honor of my friend Kristin), I ask - "How 'bout it, science?!"

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