One of the scary things about the information is just how poor the information can be, or at least what the retailers think they know about our wishes, wants and tastes.
I was looking at Trevor’s comment on my little rantlet about the watered-down definition of ‘literally’ and it made me think of A Plum in Your Mouth by Andrew Taylor which is an interesting romp through the changes in the English language.
It is more to do with pronunciation than the written word but is worth a look nonetheless as a reminder that we should get too prissy about what we perceive to be correct usage.
Anyway, my point is that I only have it as an audiobook that I picked up for 40p in a charity shop. And very good it is too, read by Stephen Thorne who among other things played the wonderful Uncle Mort in the BBC Radio 4 series.
It was a reminder to get hold of the book itself so off I popped to Amazon and picked up a hardback copy for 1p plus £2.80 which is a bargain in anyone’s book if you’ll pardon the pun.
But the page also demonstrated what it is that Amazon’s algorithm thinks might tickle my fancy. This eclectic lucky bag included The Spoken Word by Edith Sitwell, A Genius for Deception: How Cunning Helped the British Win Two World Wars, Burning the Suit: Fighting Back Against the Aftershock of Redundancy and The World of Gerard Mercator: The Mapmaker Who Revolutionised Geography.
I might just be persuaded to flick through the pages of one or two of the titles, but what made them think I would be interested in The Politics of Yorkshire Miners? Unless they knew in advance that I was going to mention Uncle Mort half an hour later and this was the nearest they could get to that Yorkist literary genius.
The conclusion is that Amazon’s algorithm is either very, very clever or very, very random, but whatever it is I’d like to tell Amazon that I have never bought anything from their Recommendations for You.
However, it has at least made me think of the splendid language in Peter Tinniswood’s Uncle Mort’s North Country that you can find on YouTube. And below is a clip from the 1975 tv series I Didn’t Know You Cared in which Uncle Mort finds his ideal woman.