I agree with this, Taste is social, existing between people and not in isolation. People don’t just like what they like in a vacuum; they like what they can talk to others about or what will make them seem smarter or cooler to others or whatever. But as Felix Salmon points out, Netflix has to work to convince users that they don’t want to watch the quality stuff people talk about but the second-rate stuff the company can license but users are less likely to recommend.

What Netflix accomplishes by trying to atomizing taste in the ways Madrigal details is to give users a different to game to play with their identity that is nonsocial, that consists of manipulating decontextualized toy blocks into effigies of their identity — catering to the dream (if anyone really wants this) of a nonsocial self that can be built and entertainingly toyed without the risk of others’ judgment. Algorithms stand in for the approving other in the circuit of self-production.

How Netflix Reverse Engineered Hollywood


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