Netflix and the Myth of Personalization
Today Slate has an analysis of how Netflix began the process of personalizing marketing, of using "algorithms to micromanage distribution, not production" in particular in the multi-pronged marketing of House of Cards.
In the middle of the article, we find this paragraph:
House of Cards thus embodies one of the most seductive myths of the algorithmic age: the ideal of personalization, of bespoke content assembled especially for each one of us. In fact, the content, or at least the costly, aesthetically rich content we care about, like Fincher’s show, is still fairly limited. There is only one House of Cards, but there are as many ways to market the show as there are to target Netflix viewers. This is what information theorist Christian Sandvig calls “corrupt personalization”: the ways that algorithmic culture blurs the lines between our genuine interests and a set of commodities that may or may not be genuinely relevant, such as products “liked” by our friends on Facebook even if they did not knowingly endorse them.
The piece on corrupt personalization is worth the side trip, but it's a bit much to squeeze in here. But let me toss out three context-free quotes that may ring bells.
It’s as if on Facebook, people were using the yellow pages but they thought they were using the white pages.
In sum this is again a scheme that does not serve your goals, it serves Facebook’s goals at your expense.
Money is used as a proxy for “best” and it does not work. That is, those with the most money to spend can prevail over those with the most useful information. The creation of a salable audience takes priority over your authentic interests.
And I will bring back Greene's Law-- the free market does not foster superior quality; the free CURMUDGUCATION: Netflix and the Myth of Personalization: