questions i wish i always asked myself when someone's trying to get me to do what they want by showing aggression and anger.
also, what i hear when people say "If I can do this, anyone can!" -- which i hear all the time on reality TV shows for some reason.
topic (really, a question):
here's an honest question i've been stumbling over for 4 months: what do we get out of content recommenders? what's the benefit to us, as users? i'm not asking about whether they help us discover new stuff, products, content. i know they do that. and i certainly understand the product implication of a good content recommender for a company. they're built to increase loyalty, engagement, to decrease churn, to sell more products, to sell better products. they're built to ensure a better immediate-term outcome. but what i wonder is: how are they better than the alternatives? in an alternate universe, could something better be out there?
pre-discussion: what is a content recommender, and how does a basic one work?
here's a recommender that a lot of us are familiar with, and an example i'm going to keep referring to.
it's netflix! below, i highlight the recommender's output-- Named & Recommended Categories, and Recommended Titles:
ok, and... how do recommenders work?
recommenders can work LOTS of ways-- so many-- maybe even as many ways as there are engineers. but the bare bones that the recommenders Netflix builds, for instance, start with a list of users, a list of films, and then does some extrapolations predicting ratings of unseen movies based on seen movies and similar users. Visually, a little dataset might look like this:
trying to get people to like my page on facebook in the past month:
and here's my rumination on why this is happening, because i am so confused by what 'normal' is on facebook, i'm frustrated that not only am i not in the driver's seat, but also can't even see any of the measurement instruments. and lastly because i honestly don't believe that my social network is actually resistant to helping me discover and develop my voice:
i woke up with this ill-formed idea in my head about emotional norms and baselines, and i keep seeing stories like this one in the NYT on teaching self-compassion to teenagers. chris hardwick on ID10T has been talking about a similar idea-- when do we get to relax, and be done beating up on ourselves? at what level of success do you finally feel like "This is it"? his conclusion: "There is no finish line!" but that doesn't work for me, and that definitely doesn't work for right now. americans are under so much strain. establishing norms and context and baselines is so important in a time when propaganda, misinformation, and disinformation run rampant.
since i started this blog to discuss "what is normal" and "how do we know what we know" it seems like a good time for a somewhat drawn-out stream of thoughts. i'm basically just talking myself tired, here, and i don't come to any conclusions, so just stop reading once you get bored.
for some reason when i feel performance anxiety, sometimes it helps me to mentally picture a couple of really happy memories from the upper east side. i pretend i'm suspended in the world's longest afternoon, free to stay as long as i please. i recommend it highly.
A lovely friend of mine confided in me the other day that they, at 32, were still experiencing fear of rejection. "Fear of rejection." It's funny to me how evocative that phrase is.
When we hear the phrase "Fear of Rejection," most of us immediately think of same thing. We think of the specific fear of the specific rejection of 1) Asking someone out and 2) Hearing them say no.
To me, Fear of Rejection is really vague terminology-- but The Fear and The Rejection are so common that we all know what we mean when we say that. No part of someone talking about Fear of Rejection wonders if maybe the other person is referring to the anxiety a statistician feels that they might erroneously reject a null hypothesis when the hypothesis is actually true.
Wait, Null Hypothesis-- we were just talking about dating. Don't jerk me around, Wang
OK, well, hear me out-- in a way, Fear of Rejection in a romantic setting is a lot like the fear a statistician might feel about rejecting a null hypothesis when it is true in reality. Here's what I mean by that-- here's a typical Type I vs Type II matrix, with the implication of someone you're asking out making one of those errors:
i'm proposing a new holiday. valenTINY day.
valenTINY day is for EVERYONE who makes each other feel the intense possibility and capacity of life. it is hard these days to not find oneself inveigled by the tension and turmoil of our society. but it is also much more important to find time to be out of the quicksand, and considering the possibilities of life, than it has ever been.
so. if you don't have a valentine today, celebrate valenTINY day-- by taking 10 minutes to find common ground with someone you aren't sure if you even like that much. you don't even have to do it in person. make a list of things you have in common with someone you resist feeling love for. the more resistance you feel, the more i suggest you make that list for that person. that's it.
small moves, my loves.
OK, I'm finally posting my first rant. And hopefully my last!
I have seen something I find VERY upsetting on Facebook in the past few weeks: People asking each other to "stay in their feed" by commenting on their status. It seems pretty obvious that Facebook really did push a new algorithm in the past week or so (usually it's really hard to tell over a short period how the logic of what you see and don't see is changing). I am especially upset because the people I see sharing it are people whom I love very much and want to stay in touch with.
I have some numbers on this recent change for those who are feeling out of control over who they're in contact with now.