Is there any word the preening digitocracy loves more than “algorithm”?
Don’t they just shiver with pleasure at how the word seems to combine “magic”, “genius” and “superiority”, and that if you haven’t got one there’s something wrong with you?
Pre-financial crisis it was just the hedge fund and investment bank clever clogs who fancied algorithms could billionise them without their having to expose themselves to a whole lot of risk (or do a whole lot of work.)
Nowadays though, you can’t turn on your preferred device without having every crumb of your data algorithmed for some digital oligarch’s benefit.
An obvious example is the way in which big data organisations mine every last detail of your life in order to parade merchandise in front of you.
Just recently though, it has come to Saint Peacock’s attention that perhaps some of those algorithms might need a better class of PhD working on them.
For example, the ads that Facebook has been serving up are consistently no more precise than Diana Ross taking a penalty.
It almost always feels the products and services they recommend are aimed at someone else, perhaps someone just in from the countryside or rendered simple by prolonged exposure to tonic wines.
See here for examples.
Within the last 24 hours, though, the internet has truly lost its sales and marketing compass with this monstrosity.
It was served up to me yesterday, September 21, in prime ad real estate on the internet’s very own soft narcotic, the Mail Online.
This hideosity is brought to the world by the Gamiss “brand”, a company which describes itself on its own website as “an online cheap clothing store that provide one-stop shopping for global consumer, and committed to offering our customers the high quality products at the lowest price.”
Somehow, the ingenious system responsible for calculating that this was the ad for me was in a way right.
It did indeed distract me from the car crashes, celebrity weight loss dramas and stories of girls glassing each other for a good few minutes, also known as an eternity in digital browsing terms.
But only because it was so revolting and inappropriate.
So what’s the explanation, Mail Online?
Does your perusal of my data really suggest that I am in the category of consumer who would be persuaded to buy this “high quality product”/ most vile novelty garment ever?
Or does someone need to get busy with the algebra, because your algorithm has gone rogue?