How Netflix is turning viewers into puppets

How Netflix is turning viewers into puppets


“The interesting and potentially troubling question is how a reliance on Big Data might funnel craftsmanship in particular directions. What happens when directors approach the editing room armed with the knowledge that a certain subset of subscribers are opposed to jump cuts or get off on gruesome torture scenes or just want to see blow jobs. Is that all we’ll be offered? We’ve seen what happens when news publications specialize in just delivering online content that maximizes page views. It isn’t always the most edifying spectacle. Do we really want creative decisions about how a show looks and feels to be made according to an algorithm counting how many times we’ve bailed out of other shows?” (Andrew Leaonard,

Customise your favourite TV show

Customise your favourite TV show - NewScientist

Image: HBO/Everett/Rex Features

“Lost the plot watching Homeland or Game of Thrones? Wondering when a strange character you’d never seen before on Doctor Who was introduced? You’re not alone: the tremendous choice of programmes on offer on today’s multichannel TV services can make it hard to keep up.

But help is at hand, thanks to scene-analysis software that can compile a video sequence summarising any chosen plot line or character’s appearances in a TV series. Choose a scene, for instance, and the software will assemble a personalised video episode based around it. And in a move screenwriters will doubtless detest, it can also help fans compile customised episodes starring only their favourite actors. […]

The researchers successfully tested StoViz on three TV series with very different formats: the sitcom Malcolm in the Middle, the fantasy drama Game of Thrones and the legal lunacy of Ally McBeal.” (Paul Marks, NewScientist)


Web Deals Cheer Hollywood, Despite Drop in Moviegoers

Web Deals Cheer Hollywood, Despite Drop in Moviegoers - New York Times

Photo: J. Emilio Flores for The New York Times

“Instead of Hollywood suffering its own Napster moment — the kind of digital death trap that decimated music labels first through the illegal downloading of files and then by a migration to legal downloads almost solely through iTunes — several deals announced this month have it feeling more in control.

While studios still consider piracy a huge problem and feel stymied by Silicon Valley (and Washington politics), they nevertheless control their content. And now the Web is coming to them.” (Brooks Barnes,

Next battle over Net ramps up worldwide

Next battle over Net ramps up worldwide - Politico

Image: AP Photo

“The countries pressing for the change counter that regulatory power over the Web is disproportionately concentrated in U.S.-based organizations. Given the global nature of the Web, that authority should be more broadly shared, they say.  There is a ‘sense that the U.S. has an inordinately primary position in how the Internet is administered,’ said Brian Cute, head of the Public Interest Registry, which manages .org sites. ‘That sentiment is driving many of the actors in this negotiation.’

If the pro-regulation countries realize their agenda, the ITU [International Telecommunication Union] is the international body that would assume more power over the Internet. The ITU is under the auspices of the United Nations.” (Eliza Krigman, Politico)

Technology of the Laugh Track

The Laugh Track - On The Media

Illustration: Zohar Lazar - New York Magazine

“What also happened was Mr. Douglas didn’t, at least in the early days, do a good job updating his laughs. In the late 1960s, watching Gilligan’s Island, you might be hearing an audience from the ’50s laughing at the day’s jokes. Some people who had good ears could actually pick up, wait a second, I know that lady’s laugh. And the joke became, as laugh technicians will tell you today, that there were probably a few dead people laughing at jokes in some of the shows in the ’60s and ’70s.” (Joe Adalian on OnTheMedia)

Also check out Joe Adalian’s article “Please Chuckle Here” in New York Magazine.

The Thorny World of Online Comments

The Thorny World of Online Comments - On The Media

Image: Marc Wathieu/flickr


We’re only about 15 years into this whole comment ecosystem. It strikes me that it hasn’t changed a whole lot.


That’s right. I think this has been one of the neglected problems of the Internet for two reasons. One is that having a wide- ranging conversation among large groups of people is not an easy thing to do. I haven’t really seen it work well off the Internet, and I’ve only seen it work well on the Internet in a few instances.

And the second thing is I think that for a lot of places creating good comment sections has just not been a priority for their developers. Building better content and promoting that content have really been the priorities of magazines, newspapers, other websites.


Digital Maoism

Digital Maoism - Jaron Lanier

Photo: Edge

“What we are witnessing today is the alarming rise of the fallacy of the infallible collective. Numerous elite organizations have been swept off their feet by the idea. They are inspired by the rise of the Wikipedia, by the wealth of Google, and by the rush of entrepreneurs to be the most Meta. Government agencies, top corporate planning departments, and major universities have all gotten the bug.” (Jaron Lanier, Edge)