The most common command our own little AI device gets from my two little rascals. What a delight!
It’s my struggle, to be honest. I seem to focus on all the pitfalls of the newest technologies rather than their benefits. And, yes, it does make me feel old and slow-adapting. It took me over ten months to finally set up my android auto app properly! But it also makes me human—one with a thirst for new things, knowledge, and adventure that is not served to me by an algorithm.
As you are getting to know me a bit better through this blog, let me unveil one of my superpowers.
I’m a queen of optimization. I optimize everything in our lives. I always find the most effective parking spot, approximating the ideal correlation between the position of an entrance, location of the shopping carts, and a remaining number of steps we still need to log that day.
I optimize the way we ran errands, manage our money, plan our trips, survive our days.
As such, it’s somewhat of a surprise to me how much I hate the famous search engine optimization (SEO). Of course, I want to find as many readers as possible. Writing brings me joy, but sharing my words gets it a deeper meaning.
But do I want to sacrifice my witty, creative, ironic,
or sarcastic headline to replace it with one that some algorithms can recognize and rank highly? Because it has “how-to” or a number or an emotional word in it? Do I want to add external links that add little value, so I rank higher? Well, I don’t.
I try to find a balance. I sell nothing, but I still want the stories to find its readers.
Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand the benefits (okay, maybe not completely) of these algorithms.
They help companies to better target their desired customer and focus on ones that most likely need or want a given product. But I find myself at a crossroads where I can’t help asking, aren’t the robots robbing us of something?
Our virtual lives
It seems to me that we live in an era when social media, search engines, email servers, apps, all the tech buddies we use so lovingly, are serving us with many options. Not always to improve our experience. I’m sure that it happens to you all the time. You’re searching for a hotel, you find it; you book it; you go and enjoy your stay. Easy! And then, for the next few weeks, you keep seeing ads for the same hotel everywhere you go in your virtual world.
Please, dear algorithm, I’ve already bought a bra! My kids are weirded out by all the boobs they’ve been seeing on my screen every time they come to ask me something. Stop offering me bras!
Similar limitations are happening with books, music, and articles.
And that makes me sad. I sometimes check an online bookstore to see the reviews of my books (not yet published in English) and then I get offers suggesting these are the books I’d like to read. Well, I read them a hundred times before I published them! I know, I know I’m the exception to the re-targeting rule because I visit the website for other reason than buying.
But the point is, I would like to explore other genres and other books, not only those similar to the ones I already read. I would like to listen to music I don’t know exists. I would enjoy broadening my horizons and read something other than fitness news (only because I recently searched for a new yoga video). All I’m getting offered is based on my previous behavior. And what about now? And the future? Aren’t the algorithms limiting our potential?
I am a queen of optimizing.
But not in the virtual world. In my stories, I’m going to sacrifice a little of what I find is well written in order to offer an easy to find content. Not always, but sometimes. But as I’m writing this rant about the algorithm limitations, I realize that, for my personal growth, I’m going to make an effort to search for things outside of my usual interests—to learn and experience more (and to screw with the algorithm a bit).
How are you optimizing your virtual life? Leave a comment, please.
And if you want to learn more about me, please read my other posts.
Cover photo: Gabriela Teplicka.