Posted by: Manuel Delgado | June 30, 2011

Lost in the Jungle

The Amazon.com recommendation engine knows me fairly well.  And it thinks I should buy the Koran.

I’ve been their customer for almost 15 years,  and the books they try to sell me genuinely reflect my passions: Spanish-language literature, personal essays, travel, business and marketing, children books and books related to World’s Fairs.

However, a few days ago I visited the Amazon.com website and, out of curiosity, I checked their recommendations for books in Spanish. Most of them were mostly on target, but I was surprised when the site recommended I should buy the Koran.

This was a head scratcher.  I usually try to guess why Amazon recommends a book, and there is usually a pretty straightforward connection with past purchases. However, I couldn’t remember ever buying books about Islam or the Middle East.

Stumped, I clicked to see what I had bought that made them think I would be interested in the Koran.The answer was very interesting, not at all what I had expected, and even a tad disturbing:

Is their recommendation engine is broken in Spanish, or have they found a strange correlation in Spanish that’s not present in English?

I’m inclined to believe the former, but in the jungle you never know…

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