I don’t think Mr. Kirn understands it very well:
What annoys me about the recommendation “engines” that drive e-commerce nowadays is their denial that I possess free will, or at least their denial that I often exercise it. I’m told that the programs rely on algorithms that mimic the workings of my cultural intellect, which must mean that I’m an algorithm, too. I’m not, though. I’m a complicated oddball, eccentric, eclectic and erratic — prized traits now reduced to irritable rejection of ubiquitous recommendations on my e-commerce sites.
Collaborative filtering looks at the movies/books you have read or watched, as well as the ones that you think highly of, and it finds other people who seem to like the same things. Then it tells you what these other people also like.
That is not “mimicking the workings of my cultural intellect”. This is not “making you an algorithm”. This is the equivalent of your friend saying “Hey, you liked Unforgiven and The Big Lebowski, right? You might like True Grit – I saw it, and it was great”