Do Music and Movie Suggestion Algorithms "Get" You?

By Robert Sorokanich on at

I universally hate streaming music services. They all promise to broaden my horizons, analysing my tastes to bring me music I never knew I couldn't live with out. They can all go to hell.

My typical algorithm driven streaming music experience goes like this: I'll punch in a song, or artist, or whatever, that I want to explore. The algorithm will spit out a few half arsed choices. I'll hit skip/fast forward/frowny face/thumbs down as many times as I can without purchasing a subscription. Then I'll just close the damn thing and go to YouTube.

Movie suggestions aren't any better. I love crime dramas and action movies, but c'mon, nobody can watch that crap all the time. So whenever I open Netflix, it either goads me to watch the same "gritty, minimalist noir" I've already gorged myself on, or it gives me a completely wackadoo suggestion based on the terrible indie dramedy I watched for 17 minutes sometime in February.

I'm fully willing to admit that this is all my own damn fault. When I like a song, I like that song, which is different from being addicted to the whole genre. I love AC/DC, but that doesn't mean I want to spend three hours with Axl Rose and Geddy Lee. Maybe expecting Pandora to understand that nuance is unrealistic. No wonder it keeps trying to convince me that I don't actually hate Fleetwood Mac.

Am I just plain weird? Is searching for artistic sympathy in a cold machine a fool's errand? Or do you folks just magically find unexpected gems in the "you might like" column? What does that even feel like? Damned if I know.

Image: Shutterstock / alexnika