Milieus of interest in Amazon recommendations

Networks are an abiding obsession for me. So I love this…

This data visualisation video illustrates how Amazon applies the power of networks to selling more books (and everything else) – by tapping into the networks of purchases of books to offer more.

The visualisation was created with a tool from Christopher Warnow, which is available to download, if you want to try it out yourself.

Amazon Recommendation Network from Christopher Warnow on Vimeo.

In his blog post about the project, Christopher talks about his surprise when using the tool to find that “milieus of interest”. A milieu is a “a person’s social environment” – we jargon-debased marketing types would have said “communities of interest” or started bleating about “interest graphs”, but I definitely prefer “milieus” (and yes, I had to look it up to make sure I understood it).


When Christopher was looking at books he noticed differences in the recommendation networks of Germans and Americans (on the .com domain). For instance, with Linked, the brilliant popular science book about network theory…

The similarities are the complex theory and network dynamics. But the differences are interesting as well. The english milieus contain politics and collective systems, wheras the germans are more into successful marketing and economics.

Network theory is a good place to look at where different communities of interest converge. Earlier this year i attended a conference on how opinions move through networks at the University of Warwick. Sociologists, mathematicians and physicists were all there, swapping ideas and trying to see the same problems from the point of view of their own discipline.

Via O’Reilly Radar.