Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Funny Little Modern Oddity

Yesterday, the oddest email landed in my inbox. It was from Amazon. "Paul Vigna," it said, "are you looking for something in our Industries in Business & Money eBooks department? If so, you might be interested in these items."

Now, what item do you think was at the top of the list? The Age of Cryptocurrency. Now that, I thought to myself, is fantastic. Amazon is promoting my book in its little email circulars (does anybody use the term circular for these kinds of things? Am I showing my age there?) I actually started getting pretty excited about it.

Then I thought about it for a second, and it dawned on me why that book was at the top of the list.

It was at the top of the list because I've been going to the website and looking the book up (this is the page, in case you're interested in a preorder). Not daily, but a lot, pretty much daily, probably more than anybody save maybe Mike. So, of course, what happened is obvious: Amazon's tracking software records that I've been there, and it almost certainly also knows I haven't placed an order (although that certainly shouldn't stop you). When it comes time for Amazon's algorithms to select the books I'm most likely to buy, because they're the ones I've been looking at, what does it pick?

The Age of Cryptocurrency.

Now, on the one hand, that's a nifty piece of software Amazon's got there. I'm quite sure they spend an awful lot of money to get that stuff right, and to be able to match people up with the things they are most likely to buy.  But on the other hand, it's a failure, because it sent an ad to the least likely person to buy that book. I mean, I've, like, already read it. The computer read my name on the sales side, but didn't read it on the author side. Or, if it did, it couldn't discern that they were the same (it's not like my name is Joe Greene, after all) and that it shouldn't try to sell me a book I wrote.

Modern living, man. It's a blast sometimes.

Still, I was excited to see Cryptocurrency there, and I'd imagine, or hope, it will be included in other circulars, to other people. So all in all it's a good sign.

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