controlled by cookies

12 04 2011

They know. They are clever. And they never forget.
They remind you. They prompt you. They stalk you.

Do you fear them?

Or do we embrace them?

After all, there is nothing to fear. All they are doing is saying if you liked that, you may also like this. You bought this album, you may like this one. How very lovely, we think, I’ll give it a go. Have a cookie. Thanks for the thought.

boxed in

My recommendations from Amazon are sometimes very useful, sometimes way off the mark (80’s rom coms are not really my scene, it was Fran’s birthday…) (honest). But they are always based on my previous purchases, or things I have shown an interest in. Do they show me anything new? Or do they simply affirm my tastes and keep me in the same box? Does the shuffle on iTunes play things I have played more recently based on what I have played recently, so that gradually the net shrinks and it shuffles the same songs?

I was imagining a Bible app that would do the same. Maybe there is one. You know, one that says

  • ‘as you like *Isaiah 61*, you may also like *Luke 4*’,
  • ‘as you like *Acts 2* you may also like *Joel 2*’ or my favourite,
  • ‘as you like to *misinterpret metaphor in Genesis* you may also like to *misinterpret metaphor in Revelation*’.

Then I thought, don’t we already do that. Don’t we already self-select the books we read, the Bible passages we read, the podcasts we download. Don’t we already take recommendations from our friends who we agree with, and in so doing affirm our own rightness by listening/reading/watching stuff we know we will agree with? I was struck by Nick Baines (not literally) a few weeks ago when he said that he doesn’t read books by people he knows he will agree with, because what’s the point? I guess that’s great for an avid quick reading academic like him, but is it realistic for the rest of us? I am about to start a Tom Wright I bought in 2008. That’s how behind I am with my book pile, and that’s mostly books I know I will like. Though it does include a John MacArthur (I was lent that one).

Given the choice, I will read Rob Bell not John Piper. Given the choice and limited time I am unlikely to critically engage in a meaningful sense with someone I am likely to disagree with. Which is exactly what I criticized people for doing with Rob Bell’s new book, people who slandered it before it was even published.

A challenge for me as part of the affirmation generation, who buy/listen/read things based on computer-generated consumption assumptions and tweets from our global ministry heroes is to break out and break free from being controlled by cookies. To try something new. To read someone I don’t agree with and find something good in it.

As Spring Harvest looms, I’m sure there’ll be plenty of opportunity…!

Meanwhile here are a few more ideas for my ‘affirming your own beliefs’ Bible app. Do add your own..!

  • as you like *sporadically applying Levitical laws when they suit you*, you may also like *The Pharisees*
  • as you like *Luke 10*, you may also like *Deuteronomy 6*
  • as you like *denying bodily resurrection and the new creation*, you may also like *The Sadducees*
  • as you like *sending non-believers to eternal physical torment in hell*, you may also like *Matthew 25.31-46*
  • as you like *to write long letters to church leaders* you may also like *Paul*

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