Artificial stupidity

I’ve always thought that Amazon’s mechanism for making recommendations was crude in the extreme, but recently it seems to have been at the meths and got completely drunk. Herewith, the evidence:–

A few days ago, it presented me with the suggestion that I would probably be delighted to purchase a CD of Blondie’s Greatest Hits – which in itself is not a completely barmy recommendation – I can remember thinking Debby Harry looked quite attractive when we were both a lot younger. But according to Amazon, their reason for offering this for my excited consideration was that I had bought a set of Rachmaninov’s complete piano concertos played by Ashkenazy. While this strikes me as a somewhat unusual pairing, at least the two items are both musical. Tonight, however, they have exceeded even my wildest dreams by conjuring up for my delectation:–

Polaroid Pogo Media Paper, 30 Pack, 2 x 3 Inch with Zero Ink (Zink) Technology by Polaroid (Jul 1, 2008).
Not unreasonable, one might think – except that I’ve never owned a Polaroid camera – or a pogo stick, come to that. But the reason Amazon gives for believing that I am aching to buy this coveted item is that I recently purchased a CD of Handel’s Water Music and Fireworks Suite.

I’m not sure I follow the logic …

Just off to stick some photo paper in the CD player, :smiley:


Ive said it before; Im saying it now, and I dont doubt Ill be saying it again: the mind doth boggle!

Perhaps it’s a spelling error - a polaroid does have a “handle” afterall

I’m not sure why, but I’m reminded of the story in Swift’s A Tale of a Tub in which one of the characters finds a textual authority that admits of the word “fringe” being interpreted to mean “broom-stick” in certain contexts. Perhaps it’s the coincidence of Handel and Swift both living in the 18th century that brings it to mind. But I’d be intrigued to know what is causing Amazon to make the link. I did toy with the idea that “Pogo” might appear in the description of Handel’s Water Music. “Polaroid” I think we can discount as being too unlikely. :wink: Anyone have any imaginative suggestions?


Methinks the AI isn’t even that smart. Doesn’t it proffer recommendations based on what other purchasers of the same item have bought? So there are Rachmaninov admirers out there who also love Blondie and those who appreciate Handel that prefer Polaroids over digital cameras - and from that, Amazon presumes you must have the same proclivities.

Not imaginative, just boring. Somewhere in Amazon’s database there’s likely to be evidence that at least one person has previously purchased the two items together. Possibly, because the Polaroid paper (if it’s what I think it is) must be a rarely bought item today, only one person.

It reminds me of questions raised years ago about the presence of ads for denture-fixing powder in the breaks for the most gently notorious of the leading UK TV yoof programmes of the day, The Word. Were the teeth of Britain’s youth really that bad? Or were the advertisers wasting their money? Actually they weren’t. When there were far fewer UK TV channels, there was plenty of evidence that older folk browsed programming widely (as they still do to some extent today). And alongside their Agatha Christie dramas and their gardening shows, they also liked their dose of fish-snogging and maggot-chomping youngsters (not fish-snogging and maggot-chomping generally, only on The Word).


Edit 1: KB was there before me.
Edit 2: If the Polaroid paper is what I think it is, isn’t it now a collector’s item, sought by a small but vociferous clan of Polaroid camera fans who are campaigning to have it manufactured elsewhere now that Polaroid have stopped? So, Martin, Amazon’s marketing database may be inadvertently doing you a favour…

Fascinating! Thank you to both Keith and Hugh – I hadn’t considered those possibilities. My imagination ran away with me. But I think you have to admit that seeing this on a quiet Saturday afternoon might take you by surprise!

… particularly when the other suggestions seem … well … a little more conventional, shall we say.

Incidentally, what does one do with used Polaroid film? (which they are also offering for sale). :wink: I wonder if that is also a collector’s item.



How used? Research suggests my previous speculation was correct and there may be an investment opportunity here. Possibly we’re witnessing an old-fashioned run on Polaroid materials - but especially Polaroid Pogo Media Paper - and so heavy is the demand even for used Polaroid film that virtually whatever you buy from Amazon you’ll get a recommendation to buy Polaroid. Perhaps there is an opportunity to corner this market.

As one of your advisers in this matter, Martin, I must however warn you that markets may go down as well as up. Especially markets in Pogo Paper.


I got a guy in Amsterdam who’s tellin’ me that Tulips are the next big thing! :mrgreen:

I may be confused, but isn’t a “Polaroid PoGo” a small printer that you can use with your mobile phone?

As opposed to the famous, but now thing-of-the-past Polaroid Instant Camera?

Not half as confused as I was when I first saw the recommendation. But you may well be right. However, I’m very grateful to Hugh for his advice, and have made proper note of his observation that Pogos may go both up and down. I’m also resisting the temptation like mad …


Would that be clockwise, or t’other way about?

Were it possible, twould be one or tother…I think :confused:
Not sure if it`s possible to:
‘Boggle to the left’
‘Boggle to the right’

So, Googling, ‘boggle’…see what turned up. Weird or wot!? :open_mouth:

What actually happens when the mind boggles? Does it swell up, or look like those balls you squeeze through a net to make disgusting brain bubbles?

According to my Shorter Oxford Dictionary, boggle is an intransitive verb, and it means “hesitate, demur, at or about; equivocate; be startled or baffled”. So I expect it makes disgusting bubbles.


Squeezing balls through nets? Hens teeth! And you look so sweet and innocent on your web site. Armour and ordnance required for any further visits methinks. body and mind now achieving shivering / boggling synchronicity

Or the imbibing of copious amounts of, ‘Islay water’ and/or, ‘Jura juice’, :frowning:
There`s just no end to it, is there Judders? :open_mouth:

I shudder to think of the mental image that YOU had in your head, but what I was thinking of was this:


We had one just like it until a child visitor decided to find out if there was a squishing “limit”. There was. It involved some revolting yellow stuff and what can be best described as constant “oozing”. The oozing would dry to a crust, but a re-squeeze would bring upon more oozing. Until I laid it to rest in the rubbish bin.

Just look at the strength in that grip!! :open_mouth: That and ‘balls’ doesn`t bear thinking about :frowning:
Jeeezz!! Worrabout this!!!?

that a little friend of yours?