I was pretty annoyed (for at least a few minutes) when I found out Netflix planned to axe its user review system, and unless I missed most of the official flaggings, the change seemed to take place with very little warning.
It’s a shame this resource is no longer available. Netflix said it wasn’t important enough to warrant continuation. But I disagree and even do so strongly. User reviews were a big part of my Netflix experience, and without them I feel the loss. They helped me decide whether or not a show was worth watching – if it averaged 2 to 3 stars (probably not), 3 to 4 (give it a go), an exciting mix of polarised 1’s and 5’s (let me at it!)
But Netflix has erased all traces of this useful resource, scrapped the log-book of voices from financial supporters such as myself. Of course we still get to have an opinion. It’s just the scope of our input has been reduced to almost zilch. We get to choose between thumbs up and thumbs down. A hokey, nuance-free icon speaks for us now. Yes or no. Good or bad. These digestible, binary chunks feed behind-the-scenes algorithms, the beasts crunching yays or nays into so-called, ‘deep-learning.’
If I say thumbs up to one show a mathematical construct can determine if I will like another. The digits send signals to central control where Brain gets to know us as valued customer, all the better to please and anticipate our needs, present us with our ‘best fit’ viewing.
The Brain soon learns I like the documentary genre. The Brain comes to find that I don’t like crime. The Brain understands that that I’m fond of foodie porn. But is the Brain at all cognisant of what makes a show great? Narrative structure or sound motivation? And can the Brain well admit that many shows are shit? Is there a Good/Bad continum because if so logic follows, and 50% of all Netflix shows must sit below the mid.
Now how can I let Brain know that I don’t want those?