Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Log(arithm) Jam

If you have a YouTube account then you're familiar with "Recommended for You," in which they offer a selection of videos for your perusal and enjoyment based on stuff that you've viewed in the past: because you watched "X" we recommend "Y." Everyone knows this is all computer-generated (or whatever the correct technical term is).

Sometimes I check out the recommended videos and enjoy them. It doesn't take much genius to figure out that if I watched "Cavalcade of Nuclear Test Explosions" there's a good chance I might like "Planned Implosion Disasters," after all.

Sometimes the recommendations are somewhat mystifying, if not outright stupid (e.g. because you watched "Patrick Kane Hat Trick vs. Vancouver Canucks" we recommend "Susan Boyle--"Memory" from Cats"; WTF!?).

Sometimes, though, YouTube's recommendations are wrong in very subtle ways. Sometimes the logarithms (or whatever) are a bit too clever...

Take the example below. YouTube's 'bots believe that because I viewed Slim Harpo's "Shake Your Hips"...

...I might enjoy The Carpenters butchering performing "Jambalaya."

At first glance it seems that you'd have to be from another planet to think there was any musical similarity between Slim Harpo and The Carpenters. It seems like a stupid recommendation, if you're a human being. Of course, YouTube's 'bots (or million gerbils running on exercise wheels hooked up to a million abaci or whatever) are not human. What do they know about music? Nothing! But they're pretty damned good at scouring text, and it's in text that they found the "connection" that led to the recommendation.

This one is easy, so I'm not going to tell you what the connection is, but feel free to speculate in post comments. (Glenn, Dave, and Sussah are disqualified! Damn, that's a clue!).


  1. Now, ain't this ee-e-e-e-ee-easy?

    As for me, I feel clever enough to vaguely know what "gumbo" is (thanks, Glenn!). All the rest is history...

    Oh, poor Karen - she tries to motivate the audience but the crowd remains in total apathy...

    Well, the best part is:


    Thank you, Rick, for the time I spent in Google trying to do my "homework". But I am afraid I won't get high scores on that....

  2. Since I'm disqualified (and for good reason, since, like, duh) I won't give it away. I'm just commenting because I love to get shout-outs on other people's blogs. Are you listening, Glenn?

  3. Sorry, Dave, I've been remiss. I'll do what I can to rectify that. And soon. So ... keep looking - and put your goddamn blog back up! (Nice avatar, by the way.)

    Now back to you, Rick. Did you know that Slim Harpo recorded in my home town and that the Carpenters' captioner misspelled "Fontenot" and "filet" (two words my spellchecker doesn't know either)?

    Poor Karen, she should have been eating that jambalaya instead of singing about it.

  4. One thing I love about blogging is all those things we learn by exchanging comments with fellow bloggers. Here is a possible connection the YouTube algorithms uncovered: Slim Harpo -> Louisiana -> local dishes -> jambalaya -> Carpenters

  5. Claudia and Psephis both figured out the New Orleans/Louisiana connection.

    "Algorithms"? Heh, I was never any good at math!

    Yeah, Dave, where the hell is your blog these days?

    Indeed, Glenn. If only she'd eaten a bit more.