“Silicon Valley visionary John Perry Barlow died last [Wednesday] night at the age of 70. When he was 30, the EFF founder (and sometime Grateful Dead lyricist) drew up a list of what he called Principles of Adult Behavior. They are:”
You know those “you bought this, so you might like this” recommendations on Amazon? Turns out, a real live human helps ensure the recommendations you see aren’t too out of whack.
They log in to the Amazon Mechanical Turk site and are presented with two products. If one doesn’t belong with the other, they say so. For every match they identify, they make a few pennies. There’s still an algorithm, but it’s receiving crucial help from an army of low-paid workers.
NPR’s Planet Money team thought of a clever way to interview some Turks. Check it out here.
Author Ann Patchett is an enthusiastic new voice in the anti-amazon, pro-local bookstore scene. And she’s not all words: along with co-owner Karen Hayes, she opened a small, successful independent book store in her hometown, called Parnassus Books.
Two years ago, the city of Nashville had two bookstores. One was Davis-Kidd, which had been our much-beloved locally owned and operated independent before selling out to the Ohio-based Joseph-Beth Booksellers chain 15 years earlier. Joseph-Beth moved Davis-Kidd into a mall, provided it with 30,000 square feet of retail space, and put wind chimes and coffee mugs and scented candles in front of the book displays. We continued to call it our “local independent,” even though we knew that wasn’t really true anymore. …
In December 2010, Davis-Kidd closed. It was profitable, declared the owners from Ohio, who were dismantling the chain, but not profitable enough. Then, in May 2011, our Borders store—also profitable—went the way of all Borders stores. Nashvillians woke up one morning and found that we no longer had a bookstore.
How had this happened? Had digital books led us astray? Had we been lured away by the siren song of Amazon’s underpricing? Had we been careless, failing to support the very places that had hosted our children’s story hours and brought in touring authors and set up summer-reading tables? Our city experienced a great collective gnashing of teeth and rending of garments, but to what extent was Nashville to blame? Both of the closed stores had been profitable. …
Darius’s bot picks a random word, searches for that word on amazon, and then purchases items from the results list, in order, until the bot hits a pre-determined budget.
From his site:
I’ve had an idea for a long time now. It’s inspired by one of my favorite feelings: when you order something on Amazon, and it’s put on backorder, and then you forget you ordered it, and a year later it arrives—and it’s like a gift you bought yourself.
Well, I thought: what if I just wrote a program to buy stuff for me? The first iteration of this was going to be a program that bought me stuff that I probably would like.
But then I decided that was too boring. How about I build something that buys me things completely at random? Something that just… fills my life with crap? How would these purchases make me feel? Would they actually be any less meaningful than the crap I buy myself on a regular basis anyway?