If you use Netflix, you’ve probably wondered about the specific genres that it suggests to you. Some of them just seem so specific that it’s absurd. Emotional Fight-the-System Documentaries? Period Pieces About Royalty Based on Real Life? Foreign Satanic Stories from the 1980s?
If Netflix can show such tiny slices of cinema to any given user, and they have 40 million users, how vast did their set of “personalized genres” need to be to describe the entire Hollywood universe?
This idle wonder turned to rabid fascination when I realized that I could capture each and every microgenre that Netflix’s algorithm has ever created.
Through a combination of elbow grease and spam-level repetition, we discovered that Netflix possesses not several hundred genres, or even several thousand, but 76,897 unique ways to describe types of movies…
…What emerged from the work is this conclusion: Netflix has meticulously analyzed and tagged every movie and TV show imaginable. They possess a stockpile of data about Hollywood entertainment that is absolutely unprecedented. The genres that I scraped and that we caricature above are just the surface manifestation of this deeper database.
If you can’t present your ideas to at least a modestly larger audience, then it’s not going to do you very much good. Einstein supposedly said that I don’t trust any physics theory that can’t be explained to a 10-year-old. A lot of times the intuitions behind things aren’t really all that complicated.
Laughing at those who read about Miley Cyrus is America’s second-favorite pastime, right after reading about Miley Cyrus.
New York Magazine, Final Tally: Americans Were 12 Times More Interested in Miley Cyrus Than Syria.
Background: Outbrain, the content discovery platform, crunched numbers across its network of publishers to compare reader interest in stories about Syria versus those about Miley Cyrus:
Globally, there were almost 2.5 times as many available stories on Syria as there were on Miley Cyrus. Yet consumption of those Miley stories outpaced Syria by a factor of 8-to-1. And in the United States? 12-to-1!
Before those outside the States start casting their serious news stones, take stock: “Interest in the starlet significantly outpaced Syria in England, Australia, France, Germany, and every other nation in Outbrain’s analysis — except Israel and Russia.”
We just happen to fetishize her a bit more.