From the best-selling author of Traffic, an enlightening and illuminating look at why we like the things we like, why we hate the things we hate, and what our preferences reveal about us.
Why is showing up to work wearing the same outfit as a coworker so embarrassing? Why do we venerate so many artists who were controversial or ignored during their lifetimes? What makes an ideal cat an ideal cat, or an ideal beer an ideal beer, in the eyes of expert judges? From the tangled underpinnings of our food taste to our unsettling insecurity before unfamiliar works of art to the complex dynamics of our playlists and the pop charts, our preferences and opinions are constantly being shaped by countless forces. And in the digital age, a nonstop procession of "thumbs-up" and "likes" and "stars" is helping dictate our choices. Taste has moved online - there are more ways than ever for us, and companies, to see what and how we are consuming.
If you've ever wondered how Netflix recommends movies, how to spot a fake Yelp review, or why books often see a sudden decline in Amazon ratings after they win a major prize, Tom Vanderbilt has answers to these questions and many more that you've probably never thought to ask. With a voracious curiosity, Vanderbilt stalks the elusive beast of taste, probing research in psychology, marketing, and neuroscience to answer myriad complex and fascinating questions. Comprehensively researched and singularly insightful, You May Also Like is a joyous intellectual journey that helps us better understand how we perceive, judge, and appreciate the world around us.
©2016 Tom Vanderbilt (P)2016 Random House Audio
I love good journalism. I picked this book up after reading an excerpt in Wired magazine, expecting to enjoy it thoroughly. While I did find it interesting, I felt that it choked on the one thing reputable journalists are almost universally good at: making ironclad logical connections between facts (studies, interviews, etc.) and conclusions.
Although plenty of excellent research went into this book, Vanderbilt spent a lot of time out in the weeds, drawing conclusions and making judgments that didn't seem warranted by the data. In the end, the book asked more questions than it answered, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but shouldn't be the case for a book with such an extensive bibliography. I also found that I couldn't detect the rationale for leaving some questions alone and unanswered, and answering others with speculation or theory stated as fact.
To Vanderbilt's credit, psychology is a hard subject to reach any conclusions about, and he tries hard to keep it anchored in reality despite the temptation to go the "pop psychology" route and talk about what is interesting rather than significant.
I found a lot of the information to be a repackaging of things I had already read about, but I studied some of this stuff in university.
What was new to me was some of the more journalistic parts of the book, like when he interviewed the people at echonest.
It's a good read, I enjoyed it overall.
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