Netflix, Facebook, Algorithms, and the Human Mind


The world has seemed to turn inside out in the last several weeks, at least for me.

Netflix? Well, yeah I’m annoyed that they raised their prices. Yeah, I’m annoyed that they’re going to split the queues. I don’t have time to keep one queue straight. But really what are my choices? Netflix—Qwikster has the best DVD catalog for the best price. Streaming is mostly hassle free. Like it or not, it’s still the best deal in town. For those of us who abandoned cable and satellite years ago the whole Netflix-drama seems, well, a little silly. We’re already bouncing from Netflix to Hulu Plus, to iTunes. But, I’m not paying $100+ for entertainment. It’s still less than $50 a month—including the $4.99-a-pop iTunes movies. Even when I add in my internet cost, I’m still not in triple digits. So, if you’re going to bitch, offer a solution. In a cash strapped economy, put up or shut up. It’s still the best deal in town: the best options for the least money. And! And if you’re still paying the $100+ for cable/satellite—you have no bitching rights! Take a math class.

And Facebook…Facebook… I don’t like the new layout. Nope, I am not a fan. But they, as a company, are not trying to please me. I read yesterday on CNN, that we’re the product. Eww. It’s really smarmy. But they sucked us all in, preyed on the most basic human need to communicate. The bastards. But it’s not like we weren’t warned. For a long time, they’ve been doing this “Top Story” thing. You know, you have 300+ recent posts—click here—in the mean time, here are the top posts—what we’d like you to see. There is some esoteric algorithm that allegedly tells the Facebook mainframe what I think is important. Really? Because that changes on any given day—because, you know, I’m human. Moron.

Part of the algorithm looks at how many people like a certain post. Cool. What that means, on the ground, Mr. Zuckerburg, is that I will always know what’s going on with The Sims, Bill Maher, The New York Times, and a few literary journals. What my kids, partner, and good friends do has been relegated to secondary, or tertiary. Yeah. No.

What you like and comment on has always been embedded into the recent posts screen. Always. So the sidebar doesn’t particularly bother me. That the sidebar is doing things it wasn’t supposed to do with my privacy settings is an issue. But, again, I’m the product, not the customer.

But Facebook doesn’t—shouldn’t feel it has the luxury of resting on its proverbial haunches. It’s not the only show in town. It was a stand-alone sort of thing, but in the quest to exploit humanity, it is being very short sighted. What does Twitter do best? Let’s do that too. What about Google+? Well, let’s add that too.

And now it’s a convoluted mess. People are frustrated, confused, overwhelmed—in function overload. And there are more changes coming. A blog-like space? Seriously? I already have a blog, thanks anyway.

But Facebook, like MySpace before it, isn’t the only show in town. If Google+ is smart, they’ll keep the end user in mind when making changes… That’s where you’ll find me. And on Twitter. Sure, I’ll post blog updates on Facebook—but I don’t like being viewed as meat. Please add me to your Google+ and Twitter accounts! With two, possibly three, new jobs I don’t have time to be fodder for advertisers. I’m trying to put dinner on the table, Mr. Zuckerberg, I don’t have time to learn how to circumnavigate your algorithms to touch base with friends.

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One thought on “Netflix, Facebook, Algorithms, and the Human Mind

  1. Once again Mel, you have provided me with food for thought. My reluctance to go all the way to Goggle+ is the lack of my friends there, but I do see it in my future. We have cable but, have been considering dropping it lately. Have a great day…:)

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