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SATURDAY, MAY 28, 2016
One real test of friendship is the kind of gift a friend gets you. Because the anti-materialists have already raised their flags, I'll explain: Good gifts don't need to be expensive, or lavish - sometimes they don't even need to cost a thing. A good gift is grounded in the thoughts the gifter had upon giving the gift. A gift is a measure of friendship, because a gift is a measure of how well the gifter knows the giftee.

As it goes, I've received your typical standard distribution of gifts in my time - with the normal few falling on either side of that Gaussian curve. The ones that fall anywhere beyond the mean have always been a little more touching, while the ones below the curve have been more than just a little disappointing. Sure that more materialistic-self is immediately disappointed, but it's the emotional side that goes "Wait... this is what they think of me? Seriously?" And it's when, on a single occasion, you get a series of gifts falling below the curve, that you find yourself re-evaluating your friendships - especially if you've gone so far as to adjust the mean, so as to scale up the curve.

Even if it's not a gift but a recommendation, if you're anything like me then you really have a difficult time coming up with a reason to uphold the friendship when that recommendation was so far off base. You love classic literature and your friend recommends that you read Dan Brown's Angels&Demons.; You read the first couple of pages and you're nothing short of insulted. This is not even a case of not being well known - this is a case of having your intelligence questioned...

As a result it's a little disconcerting (but simultaneously a proud testament of our ever improving technology) when seems to know me better than my friends. I found myself looking over the recommended items once more - a number of months since I wrote about Smart Ads having me all wrong and to my pleasant surprise Amazon had some nice items to recommend me. Of course, there was a disappointment that I was no longer being recommended Lawn Gnomes, as those delightful fellows had sure grown on me. Otherwise though, as I looked over all the items I was being recommended, I found myself thinking "I wouldn't buy these for myself... but what great gifts they would make to give me!"

So when Amazon can recommend something to me, or otherwise suggest a potential "gift" that would be better than what a friend can do... well, what does that really say about us as a society?

Does a website that logs into an ever-growing database every single one of my searches, tracks each item I click on, the way I navigate the website, how often I return, etc. really know more than my friends whom I've joked around with, and whose questions about what I wanted for my birthday I would simply shrug off with a "You don't need to get me anything..." ?

Well ... yea, ok I guess it makes a little sense. Particularly when you consider how many of my friends are likely to tune out when I start rambling on about Rock'em Sock'em Robots... Amazon though, Amazon never forgets.

Which leads me to my rather abrupt conclusion:

True friends hire a private detective to spy on you for months in advance of the next gifting occasion ... or hack your Amazon account to see what you've recently been recommended.



I know that you love talking about being tracked by bots, but this article feels almost like a witty advertisement at certain points. And I know you 're not making any cash off promoting Amazon...but stylistically it still looks like an ad. Especially with the photo.

So, no Arc for you.

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