All entries for Monday 07 February 2005

February 07, 2005

Music, Film and Book Recommendations

Chris Anderson of The Long Tail has posted an article on using social networking applications for getting recommendations.

In other words, the assumption that there's a correlation between the people I like and the products I like is a flawed one. To use an analogy, Bill Joy, the co-founder of Sun Microsystems, famously uttered this truism (now known as Joy's Law): "No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else." The same might be said of recommendations. No matter who you are, someone you don't know has found the coolest stuff.
Compounding the problem, the people whose recommendations I trust in music are different from those whose recommendations I trust in movies. Gadgets are yet another group of mavens, as are games and books. Indeed, although I have dozens of "trust networks" (usually formed by reputation and experience, not personal relationships), most of them have nothing in common with each other, and almost none of them I consider friends. Some of them aren't even human—they're software.

Like the writer of the article, I rarely have the patience to work though websites such as epitonic for promising and relatively unknown talent. Similarly, given the wealth of records constantly being released, it would be costly and time consuming to purchase new releases at random in the expectation of picking up a gem. The same reasoning can be applied to media such as books and film.

This is why journalist reviews and non-professional reviews (e.g. from & various mp3 blogs) are a godsend. They allow others to carry out the time consuming distillation of information whilst providing readers with what is truly important. Sure, casual book, music and film reviewers will recommend things that aren't to your taste, missing alternatives out altogether at times but a trusted source will surely be right more often than not.

February 2005

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