What’s wrong with this assumption?


So I just went to look up Debora Spar’s Ruling the Waves, on Amazon, and was greeted by the above. Never mind that I wasn’t looking for what they said I just looked at. Consider instead the strangeness of having something with my name on it, as an author, and that I can reasonably be presumed to own recommended to me as a purchase. (As it happens I also own the third item. Dunno if I bought it from Amazon or not.)

For what it’s worth, can I find anywhere in my Amazon account info a place where I can let them know I’m an author and not just a customer.

Am I wrong about that? Is there a way I can let them know that? Is it worthwhile to either of us?



  1. Tara Hunt’s avatar

    You can become an author through author tools, but that doesn’t seem to affect the algorithm. I get recommended my book all of the time. :/

  2. William’s avatar

    But Doc…I bet you DID look at it ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Carter’s avatar

    Isn’t that a teensy bit of an edge case? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. scritic’s avatar

    Considering that there are so few authors and so many customers/readers, I’d say Amazon was justified in not adding a field where customers can indicate that they are authors of particular books.

  5. Shawn Powers’s avatar

    Irony aside, the algorithm seems to be working. There is a likelihood you’d be interested in the subject matter. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Morgan’s avatar

    This seems like an edge case but it does point to a weakness in their overall recommendation engine, which is that it doesn’t learn enough about you even when there are clear opportunities to do so. For example I read a lot of poker books back in the mid 2000’s when it was all the rage. For a year period I probably bought 15 books. But for the last 3+ years I haven’t purchased or looked at a single one. Amazon continued to recommend them to me as recently as my last purchase. I can’t get away from the things. Now, with my recent binge on different types of titles the poker has finally left the radar; but it seems like Amazon has the opportunity to use the customer/author databases, the purchase frequency/time span and other more sophisticated elements of referral to our mutual benefit.

  7. gammydodger’s avatar

    Agree with Shawn, algorithm’s working well, but Amazon are unable to resolve user_id, author_name and person. Semantic definitions and technologies will resolve this soon enough allowing online applications to act with a little more intelligence.

    I just checked out Brian’s link to AuthorCentral, and looked at the source of http://www.amazon.com/Neil-Gaiman/e/B000AQ01G2/, but didn’t spot any RDF. Checked out wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_Gaiman, no luck there either.

    However, Freebase has the solution http://www.freebase.com/view/en/neil_gaiman – all machine readable. Doc, you’re there too: http://www.freebase.com/view/en/doc_searls

    If a little RDF was inserted here and there as we go, the data would all begin to join up nicely and these problems might go away.

  8. Ron Reisman’s avatar

    Sorry Doc, won’t happen unless they change their algorithm.

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