What Should I Read Next? Suggestions based on books you enjoyed

I think I’ve seen (not read, necessarily) half a dozen ‘Netflix thinks I’m gay’ articles over the years. I do think their bottleneck is the smallish, mostly-mediocre catalog, not the algorithm. But surely there must be some room for improvement.

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They had this talk by the Dalai Lama up there and I like His Holiness so I watched it. I’m pretty sure the algorithm then somehow assumed, “you are a complete fucking moron who will swallow any pseudo-science, woo crap we feed you.”


Right because Dalai Lama = The Secret.


Martin Luther King = Madea

This literally.

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I’ve had better luck on Netflix mining the ever more specific genre classification buckets.

“dark animated sci fi foreign horror comedic TV series”

For algorithms of this type, maybe they could ask why we liked a particular feature instead of just entering star counts.

Sadly, many people who DO find The Secret to be worthy if anything beyond a garbage bin are also very into the Dalai Lama. Likewise MLK and Madea. And the only thing these recommendation algorithms go on is “Well, many other people that liked X also liked Y, so if you like X, chances are that you like Y too”. Unfortunately, it is so very, very wrong a lot of the time. What I wish Netflix had was a “Stop showing me bullshit like this” button, but I try to emulate that by rating the silly garbage stuff 1 star, hoping that Netflix will get the point.

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Yes, it’s not so off in one sense, but it just seems like a random guess more than not. I can’t remember what movie it was I watched, but it was like the jackpot of recommendations. There were a ton of great, interesting movies it pulled up. I wish that they were all like that. I think the more niche a movie is the more it is likely to find something truly interesting as a result of you watching it, whereas, oh “You watched Good Morning Vietnam?” you might also like “Mrs. Doubtfire.” I guess it’s not narrowing down things too much to watch a movie so many others have, and did you watch it because of Robin Williams, because of Vietnam, because you like things that got an Oscar. I know if I were to rate all the movies I watched it’d probably do better, but I just don’t feel like feeding so much information into their system. It’s enough they know what I watch.

I wouldn’t be surprised, with today’s emergence of conversation-agent grade AI already used in e.g. advertising or social data mining, if instead of manual rating you soon got a choice of talking about the movie with a bot, in a videochat-like session, and sharing your impression about the movie in more details and more dimensions than one-to-five stars can ever contain.

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They that can give up essential privacy to obtain better movie recommendations deserve neither privacy nor better movie recommendations.


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