The Atlantic: How Netflix Reverse Engineered Hollywood


4 of 5 stars
What’s this?

This article is just fantastic. Writer Alexis Madrigal unravels the mystery of Netflix’s uncannily specific “altgenres,” those categorizations of movies like “Witty Comedies Featuring a Strong Female Lead” or “Critically Acclaimed Dramas Based on 20th Century Literature.” He deduces that there are 76,897 of these classifications, apparently, and until now they’ve been evidence of an unprecedentedly extensive structured-data approach to understanding film — hiding in plain sight. Madrigal details his approach to understanding the scope of this system, and then manages to trace it to its godfather, Netflix vice-president of product Todd Yellin, who sat down with him for a one-on-one interview.

The article is a wonderful example of scrappy, code-centric investigative journalism (albeit lightweight, admittedly). But what I like most about it is how it seeks to understand Netflix as more than just an innovator in video distribution. By examining the way the company thinks about the data it collects from us and presents back to us, Madrigal is touching upon the far-reaching implications of Netflix as a new kind of entertainment company, one that is practically restructuring our very idea of what filmed entertainment is.

Read the full article here.


Thank you! Your remarks have been sent to Khoi.