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Randomized Consumerism
November 23, 2012 9:07 AM   Subscribe

"Every time I run [Amazon Random Shopper], I give it a set budget, say $50. It grabs a random word ... then runs an Amazon search based on that word. It then looks for every paperback book, CD, and DVD in the results list, and buys the first thing that’s under budget."
posted by griphus (52 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
Or he could just buy me $50 worth of stuff I want every month. That'd make a neat project, too.
posted by item at 9:12 AM on November 23, 2012 [34 favorites]


You're looking for Amazon Random Item.
posted by Elmore at 9:16 AM on November 23, 2012


Life, it's just like xkcd.

(There were a few write-ups of ebay bots after that strip appeared. The age old advice applied - get used to disappointment)
posted by samworm at 9:17 AM on November 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Normal people do this by getting drunk.
posted by chrchr at 9:20 AM on November 23, 2012 [85 favorites]


specifically it makes my car sound like it’s falling apart, and actually startles me at times.

I admit a little disappointment he hadn't stumbled upon Fatty Boom Boom.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:22 AM on November 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The first packages that arrived seem pretty cool.
posted by PistachioRoux at 9:24 AM on November 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


By the same creator: a bather is a snapshot: quivering and titratable
posted by Flashman at 9:25 AM on November 23, 2012


All in all, this was a sort of creepy shipment. It sent me a book by someone who’s known for charting and modeling the human mind, and sent me some music that is extremely mechanical and almost random.
*makes the frygif face at his computer*
posted by fullerine at 9:27 AM on November 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, why write a bot to do this when you could just take an ambien and have exactly the same results?
posted by elizardbits at 9:28 AM on November 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


Because Ambien doesn't respect a budget.
posted by Etrigan at 9:35 AM on November 23, 2012 [39 favorites]


Sometimes I wish I could one-click order myself salvation from the empty, paralyzing consumerist hellscape that is modern day America.
posted by crayz at 9:36 AM on November 23, 2012 [32 favorites]


Woah, liking that Ákos Rózmann example track quite a bit.
posted by idiopath at 9:36 AM on November 23, 2012


YOUR FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS OF TWIZZLERS AND BARBECUE SAUCE IS HERE
posted by griphus at 9:36 AM on November 23, 2012 [19 favorites]


There was the Sock Incident last year which surprisingly turned out pretty well, all things considered. I am still regretting the Toothbrush Accident though.
posted by elizardbits at 9:38 AM on November 23, 2012


He is buying things from his Amazon Recommended list, so not that random.
posted by zebraantelope at 9:41 AM on November 23, 2012


He is buying things from his Amazon Recommended list, so not that random.

His bot has a different Amazon login.
posted by muddgirl at 9:44 AM on November 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


There was that other Amazon bot-thing awhile back, too. It would help you find an item that would help you get exactly to the free super-saver shipping amount. All sorts of random, oddball stuff would make the list.
posted by jquinby at 9:47 AM on November 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


It'd be cooler if it sent the random item to a random person.
posted by spilon at 9:49 AM on November 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Paperbacks, CDs and DVDs are boring. I'd be much more delighted to get a random solenoid or some solder flux.
posted by mullacc at 9:54 AM on November 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


You can probably make a similar thing that only buys from Jameco.

But please don't.
posted by griphus at 9:56 AM on November 23, 2012


jquinby, it's not exactly a bot, but you might be thinking of Filler Item.
posted by echo target at 10:04 AM on November 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Amazon is now the prism through which we experience the world...
posted by Theta States at 10:13 AM on November 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Because Ambien doesn't respect a budget.

That's what makes Ambien purchases exciting -- the danger factor. Seriously, I'm really pleased to hear I'm not the only one whose Amazon Prime account and Ambien prescription has caused problems. It's probably safer to mix alcohol with Ambien.

Back on topic, I think this is really cool, but there's something very WALL•E about consumerism becoming so ubiquitous and easy, you can create a computer program to manage your wants. I mean I start reading articles about blue being the hot new color, and suddenly I've downloaded a new blue jumpsuit.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:14 AM on November 23, 2012


I wonder if you could get a Weavr to do this and tweet the results. Maybe set it lower, to 10 dollars per week.
posted by codacorolla at 10:37 AM on November 23, 2012


To the author: Why?
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 10:39 AM on November 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm just glad that someone is finally bringing attention to excessive consumerism in our culture. I've been waited for decades for some artist to get on top of this issue.
posted by Keith Talent at 10:39 AM on November 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


This post has reminded me to remove the viewing of that 55 gallon drum of lube from my recent amazon activity. Just in case.
posted by elizardbits at 10:40 AM on November 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


To the author: Why?

From the author:
I’ve had an idea for a long time now. It’s inspired by one of my favorite feelings: when you order something on Amazon, and it’s put on backorder, and then you forget you ordered it, and a year later it arrives—and it’s like a gift you bought yourself.
posted by griphus at 10:40 AM on November 23, 2012


Oh my, well everyone does need a hobby...
posted by sammyo at 10:44 AM on November 23, 2012



YOUR FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS OF TWIZZLERS AND BARBECUE SAUCE IS HERE

Just put it in Walter's lab.
posted by The Whelk at 10:45 AM on November 23, 2012 [14 favorites]


I've written a bot that orders me one of everything from Amazon every night. The next day I just return anything I don't want.
posted by colie at 10:45 AM on November 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm going to write a bot to start ordering one of every noun in the dictionary. As soon as I can't order something, I'm suing Amazon for not carrying everything from A to Z.
posted by Ickster at 10:49 AM on November 23, 2012


I was more impressed that Amazon actually used packaging that made sense.
posted by wallabear at 11:57 AM on November 23, 2012


Obviously a fake.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 12:02 PM on November 23, 2012


it’s like a gift you bought yourself.

This is the problem. We, as a nation, need to stop drugging ourselves with shopping. I know it is fun and exciting but the pleasure is so momentary and then you need to buy something else. We all have too much stuff and we buy other people too much stuff. And I am not some killjoy granny remember the good ole days, I just look around and everyone I know has more clothing and cosmetics and shoes than they have wardrobe space, more hobby materials and tools than they have time to use, more books, movies, music than they will time to consume. But what are we doing today? Oh yes, shopping. For more clothes and cosmetics and electronics and toys. And while we are shopping for others we will find something for ourselves and we will buy it. We've all done it. And our closets and our cupboards and our desktops and our drawers will have one more thing taking up space.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:33 PM on November 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


From Amazon.com search for "espial":
"espial"
Related Searches: madrigal.
posted by Premeditated Symmetry Breaking at 12:44 PM on November 23, 2012


We, as an internet, need to stop drugging ourselves with cheap grar.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:14 PM on November 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


I wonder if future crime syndicates will consist of computers that sit in hotel rooms stealing credit cards in order to buy more computers to ship to other hotel rooms.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:27 PM on November 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


Yeah the whole SkyNet scenario always struck me as a tad optimistic about our ability to deliver a perfectly functional piece of software at launch. Rather, SkyNet will ship with a bug in the code because a = was supposed to be a == and instead of becoming sentient, it'll just have ten thousand netbooks delivered to a P.O. Box in rural Nevada.
posted by griphus at 1:53 PM on November 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


All that aside, this made me smile, and little kid me is enjoying the whole concept.
posted by sneebler at 3:40 PM on November 23, 2012


When I think of how many indie businesses would love to have this money thrown at them as a game I die a little inside.
posted by nicebookrack at 5:50 PM on November 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


spilon: "It'd be cooler if it sent the random item to a random person."

Brilliant idea actually. Post-modernism and mass consumerism teaches us the packaging is more important than the content, so the price level could be as small as possible since the actual content doesn't matter, it's the mere fact of getting something from Amazon, the unknown of the box and act of opening it. With Amazon Prime (unlimited shipping) and set product price level very low (50 cents?) one could really hack the Amazon machine for some weird art project for a couple hundred dollars. Problem is can't send stuff anonymously.
posted by stbalbach at 10:29 PM on November 23, 2012


I'm having class confusion. People have enough money to spend on a surprise for themselves from Amazon? For fifty bucks I want to know that it was spent on something necessary or immensely satisfying.
posted by tsaraczar at 5:52 AM on November 24, 2012


If he gets free shipping I hope he's called his bot Optimus Prime.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:22 AM on November 24, 2012


Now buying random things requires a tumblr and a Q and A and photos.
posted by stltony at 6:42 AM on November 24, 2012


My closet is full but my soul is empty-from the TV show Becker
posted by cynicalidealist at 1:52 PM on November 24, 2012


That's seriously cool. Is there anywhere to download a copy of this bot?
posted by Xany at 4:12 PM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Normal people do this by getting drunk.

Yeah, but I don't have a shopping budget when I'm drunk. I end up buying $125 vintage typewriters, sets of 24 shot glasses, and then digging wildly in Minecraft until I virtually drown and really pass out.

2 weeks later I get my purchases, to my utter confusion.
posted by DisreputableDog at 7:36 PM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]




Having just spent the past four days cleaning out three closets and significantly reducing the amount of stuff I own (because clutter) this actually made me gasp in horror. Out loud, alone in my apartment.
posted by miskatonic at 3:47 PM on November 25, 2012


I think it's hilarious that people still buy CDs and DVDs (and, I'm increasingly beginning to feel, books) at all, let alone ones that have been chosen for them by a computer.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 6:45 PM on November 26, 2012


I think it's hilarious that people still buy CDs and DVDs (and, I'm increasingly beginning to feel, books) at all, let alone ones that have been chosen for them by a computer.

On that note, I realize I have something similar, but entirely digital and lacking a budget:
I have a script that runs on a regular basis and downloads every mp3 it finds, meeting certain criteria. (via a database of preferred RSS feeds, within size constraints, etc...)

Each week, I have a folder of about 6 GB of new mp3s to sift through for new and interesting sounds. (I sift through the chaffe rather quickly, I don't listen to each in its entireity)

The main difference here is that he's getting the joy of finding a package in his mailbox. Me, I'd rather not have the physical item. That $50 goes in to buying the albums that my music bot program helped me discover.
posted by Theta States at 6:02 AM on November 27, 2012


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