Friday, January 06, 2006


Hello. My name is Rick and I’m an Amazon ratings and recommendations addict. Of all the time wasting activities to get addicted to, I never thought I would end up with this one. Who would have thought it could get so serious? I never imagined it could.

It all started a couple of months ago when I realized that Christmas time was approaching and I wanted some way for relatives to see things I wanted without me explicitly telling them what to get me. Since we do a name draw on the Gebhardt side and since my parents don’t always know exactly what I want, I decided to put together an Amazon wish list (which is here if you still want to buy me stuff).

Over the course of about a week I searched out items that I’ve wanted, added them to my wish list, and emailed the url to the list to my parents. As I was doing that, on the front page of Amazon it listed a couple of recommendations. Usually algorithms that sites use to figure out other things you could possibly want work out about as well as teaching a rhino to fly. Here, however, one of the recommendations was a book that I had forgotten that I wanted to get, but since it was somehow associated with one of the authors of one of the books I put on my wish list, it recommended it.

I then decided to see what else Amazon thought I wanted. This was probably a fluke, right? So I clicked on the “Rick’s store” link at the top and browsed through what was recommended for me. A lot of the things I already had, so I marked that I owned them and gave them a rating.

Just by doing that, my recommendations got phenomenally better and a lot more focused. It was like Amazon had somehow stuck a spoon up my nose, removed my brains, examined them thoroughly, and then crammed them back up my nasal passage so that I could, you know, continue functioning.

Anyways, this is where my addiction started to take over. In my spare time at my computer at work and at home I started browsing through Amazon, rating things I owned, and then checking out what recommendations Amazon would make. Sometimes it would be uncanny how well the algorithm used knew what I wanted and at other times it was kind of funny, like when it thought that since I specified I owned an Xbox that I might like to buy a Playstation 2 controller.

So now every movie I watch, every cd I listen to, every book I read, every video game I play, every gadget I pick up, and just about everything I can find I rate on Amazon. And things I want… well, I just keep adding them to my wish list so pretty soon anyone that wants to buy me anything is going to be overwhelmed with stuff they could potentially get me.

So how do I get over this addiction? At first I thought I could just give it up cold turkey, kind of like I did with cola for about 5 years of my life. Didn’t work. Maybe if I just bought a few things from Amazon I would feel good. Didn’t work. Maybe if I found another site to take up my time. Couldn’t find one.

I figured out, after hours of thought, that the only way I’m ever going to break this addiction is to own absolutely everything Amazon has to offer. It’s going to be rough, but with your hearty contributions (by buying me stuff on my wish list) I can hopefully someday soon reach my goal!

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