Knowing Me, Knowing You

Friday, November 21, 2008


For Netflix, and a host of other online companies, being able to recommend another film, book or song you might like has become the holy grail of Internet business. As the New York Times Magazine’s Clive Thompson explains, the information is so valuable that Netflix is offering a million dollars to the first person who can know you better then you know yourself.

Comments [8]

F. Milton Olsen III from 3rd from the sun

With millions of dollars of movie promotion money flying around, a good bit of it flows under the table at Public Radio to get their films covered.

Books, television and other media all get their products hawked on Public Radio, and if you don't think that money is changing hands, congratulations on your child-like sense of misplaced trust.

Nov. 30 2008 09:03 AM
AJ Sabatini from Phoenix, AZ

While listening to the program I came up with a radical idea for those who don't know what films to choose: READ A BOOK, about films and movies, I mean. Or take a course on film. Do anything besides relying on 'what you like' as the criteria for selecting what you like. Duh. Oh, last thing, real films - not entertainment film products - have not been made for decades, so go bak to the classics.

Nov. 26 2008 07:56 PM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Fairly obviously, I’ve always had a bit of a Messianic complex despite refusing to even accept membership in any organized religion no less any orthodoxy. Still, whatever religion, or no religion, in the blessings we enjoy and the trials we suffer we are together in the eyes of the unknowable, which is all the hubris I will allow myself in claiming to understand the Great Spirit today.

It made me so sad, the other day, to hear of a Fatwa on practitioners of Yoga in the Islamic world. Perhaps the whole world needs to hear from Mother Maria?

Nov. 25 2008 04:08 PM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

It is unfortunate that Reel Thirteen, the current series of films on your local PBS television station, isn’t broadcast across the nation. It is certainly a film referral service superior to Netflix.

Lilies of the Field should be required viewing for all Americans, especially for one line. Mother Maria, portrayed by German actress Lilia Skala, is speaking to the assembled parishioners about Sydney Poitier’s character, Homer Smith, who has agreed to contract construction of a chapel for them. She mentions that “He is not of our faith,” and the crowd reacts badly. Then she adds, “But our God is the God of everyone!”

My parents brought my sister, me and themselves to see it at the North Haven Drive-In in 1963, not long after we had been driven out of that town by racists angry that we had allowed a black family to be our next door neighbors. Mother and I watched it again last week.

I’ve never forgotten the line.

Nov. 25 2008 04:06 PM
LAR from Alameda, CA

What is with Clive Thompson and his constant use of the term "chick flick" when describing any film that might appeal to women, whether it is historical, relational, adventure, romantic, comedy or drama?
Shouldn't he then use the term "prikflik" to encompass all movies that might appeal to mostly males?

Thank Goodness for Netflix because I have access to so many foreign films that don't consider a movie that has actual dialog for their female characters to be a "C****flick". That's right: if "prick" can't be displayed, then chick shouldn't be either -- in this context.

Nov. 24 2008 12:05 PM
brks from Brooklyn

I've always thought that Napolean Dynamite was a generational thing. I've met lots of people 15-25 (I'm 31) who love the film, which I just don't get. Many of those people are not fans of the Big Lebowski, which is baffling to me and many others my age.
I think iTunes Genius, which does use data from other users, givs uncannily accurate recommendations for music. Maybe movie preferences are more fickle.

Nov. 23 2008 04:22 PM
Thomas Eccardt from New York, NY

Thompson seems distressed that you can only go so far in creating a film to cater to an individual's every taste. But wouldn't the result be something more like stimulation than entertainment?

Nov. 23 2008 01:26 PM
Bibbitty from Ann Arbor, MI

While listening to your story on Netflix recommendations, it struck me that the programmers' struggle may be heightened by the way Netflix allows viewers only four rating choices. When you look at a movie listing, however, the average rating to the first decimal point is displayed. If the rating scale were changed so that viewers could rate to the first decimal point, Netflix would gain much more precise data. I often find myself wishing that I could rate somewhere between a 3 and a 4, but the current system doesn't let me do that.

Thanks for a fascinating story.

Nov. 22 2008 09:48 AM

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