Personalization's big question: Why am I seeing this?

Sara M. Watson from Digital Asia Hub discusses the state of personalization and how it can become more useful for consumers.

For more on personalization, check out these sessions from recent Strata + Hadoop World conferences: The Personalization Spectrum, by Sara M. Watson; Data Science at eHarmony: A Generalized Framework for Personalization, by Jonathan Morra; and Augmenting Machine Learning with Human Computation for Better Personalization, by Eric Colson.


I recently sat down with Sara M. Watson, technology critic and writer in residence at Digital Asia Hub. We discussed:

What is the personalization spectrum and why do we need it? (00:09)

"Most consumers don't even know if an experience is personalized," Watson says. (00:42)

Online personalization is still in its infancy. It's largely happening to people instead of for people. (02:22)

Language matters. "Targeting," "user," and other personalization terms "shape what it is you think you're doing," Watson says. (03:53)

What does ideal personalization look like? It starts with relevance, meaning, and empowerment. (08:08)

Spotify's Discover Weekly recommendation engine is a good example of useful personalization. (08:53)

We need tools that let us tweak personalization to suit our needs. (10:39)

The people and projects she's following. (16:20)

Note: This interview was conducted in September 2016.

Article image: A diagram of the emission spectrum of magnesium. (source: Christopher Thomas on Wikimedia Commons).