Thursday, February 10, 2005

Deep Sixed Again by Amazon

In another installment in my occasional series "Amazon Gets Inside My Head", I've noticed a very large number of Submarine movies on DVD start popping up. Run Silent, Run Deep, The Enemy Below (very persistently, perhaps because Robert Mitchum is the star), Das Boot, etc.

Now, Amazon has this feature where you can check "why" I'm recommended this paticular thing. It's a pattern-matching database, of course, and I'm still not sure about the internal mechanisms (I suspect it's just a simple list comparison, as opposed to a chaining expert system or neural net). So when I check some of these movies, they show up because i've rated "Twelve O'Clock High" highly.

These days virtually the only things I buy via Amazon are baby books and gear. That's all I can afford with an infant-laden book budget. I'll buy a gift for somebody's birthday here and there as well. I do, however, a lot of browsing, particularly for books where you can 'peak inside', and I'm assuming Amazon's databrain also keeps track of that someplace. Those don't show up in the 'why was I recommended' list with great regularity, but they're there.

So why did Amazon's databrain conclude I'm a big fan of submarine movies? I checked a few more of the movies, and I was recommended a bunch of them because I books. Somewhere out there, one or two submarine-obsessed Amazon customers -- maybe a Submariner at home buying stuff for a baby, or the onshore wife of a Submariner who has dual obsessions to manage -- is buying the same baby stuff I am.

Or maybe the Databrain just thinks I should be more interested in Submarine movies. Interesting concept; it's a specialized subgenre, and for a good reason, since it combines all sorts of close-quarters dramatic situations with deadly force and an all-male cast. The subtexts are manifold. I'll work on this for an essay sometime...

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