Curator or Spy? Or Both?

The NYT has a look at the Peter Gabriel-backed recommendation service The Filter.  The idea is that, like many other services out there, Filter monitors what you consume via your computer and then recommends other stuff you might like to consume – theoretically, stuff that cost money.

“Users must still download the Filter software to their desktop, where it spies on… er, digests various streams of Internet behavior (the music and videos they keep in iTunes, their streaming and browsing history, etc.). Users can also connect with their friends on the service and track their media-consuming behavior. UPDATE: The company says the download is optional but provides richer recommendations.”

Peter Gabriel definitelty sees this as part of the “Curator” movement:

“In this age, where the curator is becoming just as important as the creator, the disc jockey becomes the life jockey,” Mr. Gabriel said. “You carry this around with you as a tool that is available 24 hours a day to help you make choices.”

Of course, one has to wonder just how agnostic a service like this can be if the real goal is to make money.  Unless there is some sort of separation between Curator and Sponsor there is such a great danger of certain products or shows or bands being pushed because that’s what the Sponsor wants to sell, not because that’s what you want to buy.

This ends up being just more targeted advertising – something many people really do see as a service.  However, many others find it simply intrusive.

Either way, I just don’t think there is anything about Filter that’s new and exciting.  If it weren’t backed by Peter Gabriel I doubt the story would have made the Times.

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