January 27, 2010
I use a Google app called Reader that tells me when the blogs I keep up with have updates. The set of webpages I watch include my NB friends with blogs, bloggers who I know follow Let's Do It!, a small bundle of health care sites, plus five thirty-eight (for math/politics), Paul Krugman (for economics), and Schott's Vocab (for interesting words), and a few others for their general verve and wit.
This, in theory, keeps me from constantly clicking through a list of links, hoping for an update. It also has another feature that I had not taken advantage of until recently: recommendations. If you click on the recommendations link, it shows you entries from blogs you might like based on what you already read. Since I think my blog roll represents a fairly eclectic mix of topics and styles, I doubted it would be able to pin down things I would like.
Eventually, curiosity got the best of me and I took a peek at my recommendations. As I scrolled down through the various entries, the first thing I noticed was that four or five of them came from Let's Do It! which tickled my funny bone, because some computer had used an algorithm to suggest that I might appreciate/enjoy the website that I wrote. I have to admit several of the other entries were pretty interesting or funny.
It wasn't until I got to about the tenth suggestion that I really got curious about how the computer (the programmer?) would know that I would like what I saw. It certainly wouldn't appeal to everyone (or really almost anyone) I know. It was a photo of two picketers. The picketer on the far right dressed conservatively in a skirt that went all the way to the sidewalk. She was protesting some social issue or another. I can't even really remember, though I do recall that it was something that some people take extremely seriously. The sign she carried claimed whatever it was a SIN. The picketer on the left of the photo held a sign that said "Corduroy skirts are a SIN."
To you, the mystery might be why I laughed out loud when I saw that image. To me, the mystery arises from not knowing how someone I have never met could design an app that would identify that photo would appeal to my bizarro sense of humor.
Here are links to the three blogs that at the top of "recommended" blogs today:
You Dropped Food on the Floor. Should You Eat It?
Color Identifying System for the Color Blind