How do you recommend to an omnivore?

I love iTunes, and I love the variety of songs I can purchase from the iTunes store. But sometimes I wonder what their computers must “think” of my varied tastes. I even wonder whether I might be messing up their recommendation software. And a similar question applies to theatres who want to market to me.


Today, I went to the iTunes store in the iTunes app and scrolled down to Recommendations for You, that is, for me. I clicked the See All link, and here’s where it got odd. Among other, seemingly normal recommendations, the recommendations included using my purchase of Angelique Kidjo (Afro-pop) to recommend Black Flag (punk rock) as well as using my purchase of Ulytau (instrumental ethnic jazz-rock) to recommend Chester See (pop). The funny part is, my tastes are sufficiently eclectic to include all of these types of music.

I wonder if I messed up their prediction system with my electic tastes. My purchases from them include hard rock, pop, folk metal, punk, classical, hip-hop, jazz, country, new wave, folk, cumbia, electronica, underground rock, soul, Asian underground, Polynesian, and other stuff I can only call World Beat.

Oh, yeah, and then there’s languages. Besides English and instrumental, I’ve bought Afrikaans, Ainu, Albanian, Armenian, Asturian, Azerbaijani, Belarusian, Breton, Bulgarian, Croatian, Dari, Dutch, Estonian, Faroese, Friulian, Galician, perhaps Georgian, gibberish (the delightful Prisencolinensinainciusol in a cover version by Sophie Serafino), Hindi, Hmong, Japanese, Kazakh, Lao, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Malaysian, Mandarin, Nengone, Niuean, Norwegian, Occitan, Pashto, Persian, Puyuma, Sami, Sardinian, Scots Gaelic, Serbian, Slovenian, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, Tuareg, Turkish, Ukranian, Uzbek, Welsh, and Xhosa.

Yes, the iTunes music selection is diverse.

So what’s recommendation software to do? I’d love if it could recommend popular music in languages I don’t have yet, but that’s probably expecting too much of it.

The same is true of theatres. As noted in a previous post, I’ve attended over 100 theatre companies in the Bay Area. The best rec for me is something by a theatre whose work I haven’t seen or in a style I haven’t seen. How is a theatre to do that?

Guess I’m the one who’s going to have to do the discovery work. Thank goodness for Wikipedia and the Bay Guardian theatre listings.

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