@kingthor: Personalization Has Failed Us

Behind every “you might also like” recommendation is an algorithm built on data you’ve provided. This includes the obvious stuff, like your viewing or listening history, but it may also factor in your age, location or gender. These algorithms are all a little different.  Spotify builds its recommendations by logging what you listen to, funneling that through a genre classification system, then pulling in songs from playlists from other users with similar tastes.

Spotify’s complicated algorithm struggles to push the boundaries of your own habits. Listen to a track from Nine Inch Nails and you’ll get more Nine Inch Nails on your algorithm-generated Discover Weekly playlist. Maybe it’ll toss in something similar sounding, but it’s just as likely to throw in a random pop song from the ’90s. If you go too off course and listen to a jazz playlist followed by some metal, the whole thing breaks down and you’re served up a nonsensical playlist for a week. Even in the best-case scenario, the experience is transactional, and without the thrill of self-discovery — part of the appeal of seeking out new media — the recommendations feel cold.

Read the post on the New York Times Privacy Project