Recently I signed up for Storygraph, a service for recording what books you read, sharing them with friends, writing reviews and most importantly (according to the site’s own copy) getting recommendations for books you want to read in the future. I wanted something to better keep track of my reading, something better than me adding entries into a Google Sheets spreadsheet.
Talking about this on the fediverse with Eli got me into a conversation about recommendations which then got me thinking that the topic of media recommendations might make for a good topic for a blog post. So here we are.
When it comes to recommendations for media, I have and always will continue to prefer the recommendations of people over ones made by machines. I find that recommendations made by people come with important personal context that adds that je ne sais quoi that recommendations made by machines just cannot.
A machine cannot gush about how mindbogglingly good that book was or how emotionally affecting a movie was or how that one video game just like fucked them up in a way they weren’t expecting. And that’s why I prefer the person over the machine when it comes to media recommendations.
For books specifically, I rely on a variety of people, I rely on word of mouth recommendations from friends, a post appearing on my fediverse timeline, a recommendation from the cari can read YouTube channel or a mention on one of the many personal blogs I have in my RSS feed reader.
I do also make use of machine recommendations from time to time such as the ones from the Kobo ebook stores’s recommendation engine. The aforementioned Storygraph is just going to be another machine recommendation engine that I’ll add in to the mix. If it works out, great, if not it’s not an issue as I am still getting a whole bunch of recommendations from people.
This post is not to say that machine recommendation engines are always bad or valueless, I get plenty of value from the recommendation engine on YouTube (yes really!) and Spotify’s Discover Weekly playlist is always at least giving me something interesting to chew on even if I don’t enjoy the song it gives me.
I just find that people are the best recommendation engine of them all.