giantsloth: (sloth)
[personal profile] giantsloth
Back when I was a full-time freelancer, I interviewed one of the founders of Netflix. It wasn't for a specific assignment; he was just passing through town and someone in press relations hooked us up. I got the spiel and was so convinced that I signed up for an account with my own money. It's possible that they comped me to begin with; I don't recall--but soon enough I was happily paying my own way, and have done so continuously for well over a decade now. But now the overall story, a cliche but a true one, is the Failed Promise of the Internet. Back when it was just DVDs in the mail, I could rent titles that would never end up in a local video rental place. I poured in a ton of ratings so that the mysterious Netflix engine would figure out my tastes, and would suggest movies I'd never heard of. So now, in a world where content streams in over the network, where the most obscure movies should be available instantly, what do I get? A dumber suggestion system, and a vastly reduced selection of movies. You can stream TWIN PEAKS, for example, but no movies directed by David Lynch are streamable from Netflix. Unless you've just got to have constant content coming down the network pipe, the overall technology of circa-2001 Netflix is superior to that of today. Which is a wordy preface to this opinion piece, worth reading, by Felix Salmon:

Netflix’s dumbed-down algorithms

And yeah, gas stations used to have smiling uniformed attendants, and jumbo jets used to have piano lounges. Progress.
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