My Amazon.Com is NSFW

posted 21 May 2007

Update: This is, like so many things I say, bullshit. See correction at the bottom.

As many of you will be aware, I have a lot of t-shirts. The reason is simple: I don't wear anything else. I hate button-up shirts for the same reasons that lace-up shoes annoy me: we've been doing this for 500 years, could we not come up with a less inconvenient way of attaching clothing to ourselves? It's 2007! We should all be wearing form-fitting singletons that reconfigure themselves automatically in response to ambient temperature and are colour-programmable. And while we're not, we're not wearing corsets either (usually), so at least progress is going in the right direction and I can pre-abandon buttons along with corsets.

As a result of this prediliction -- and a weakness for Threadless that borders on addiction -- I have a very large number of t-shirts, greater than triple digits. This means that, theoretically, I could wear a new t-shirt every day for 3 months without having to do laundry (apart from trousers). Awesome! At the moment, however, I have a two-week limiting factor of socks and underwear. If I'm to achieve the 3 month dream, I need to get some more of those.

The upshot is that I was trying to buy socks and underwear online the other day. I eventually got some from American Apparel, but not before I'd gone scouting around Amazon.Com, seeing if my Amazon Prime goodness could get me what I needed. I didn't see anything I wanted, but now Amazon has worked out that I'm trying to buy underwear, and the fact that I haven't purchased seems to have set its little cogs into overdrive.

So now every time I go to Amazon, it throws underwear at me. Any kind of underwear. Big man-pants. Sports briefs. Posing thongs. Lingerie. EVERYTHING. Frequently accompanied, as underwear is wont to be, of unrealistically proportioned models wearing the product in question. As a result, my Amazon.Com front page is now a no-go area at work, lest it look like I'm some kind of freak trying to get soft-core porn out of a shopping site.

The solution, I think, is to buy some underwear from them: the dullest, most conservative pair of underwear they sell. Then the algorithms will see their work is done and return to their usual (and highly successful) pattern of attempting to sell me Dilbert collection books and web design manuals. Until then, no Amazon.Com at work -- which is probably a good rule anyway.

Update: some testing -- with a certain amount of trepidation -- has shown that the recommendations appear to be linked by cookie to a particular browser. Which is very sensible of Amazon.com, so I wholeheartedly withdraw my criticism.

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