About three years ago, I signed up for a service called Netflix. When I first set up my account, I vaguely remember rating certain movie genres from 1 to 5 stars and then specifying how often I watched movies in those genres and finally rating a few specific movies I’d already seen.
At the time, I didn’t think much of it. Now, all these years later, I realize how profound that short questionnaire (and my subsequent movie ratings) was. Because…
It made Netflix psychic. I’m not kidding. It really is psychic with roughly 98% accuracy.
Each time I hover over a movie title, it tells me how much I’ll enjoy the movie on a 1 to 5 star scale (1 being RUNAWAYNOW!!! and 5 being OMG!!!FANGIRL!!!SQUEAL!!!!!). Not only that, it gives me the average combined rating of everyone else who’s rated the movie. Yep, two different ratings. What the world thinks and what I’m likely to think. If nothing else, it highlights my abnormal movie tastes.
Out of the dozens of shows and movies I’ve watched, Netflix’s personal rating has only been vastly off maybe three times. It’s like Netflix knows me (or at least my movie viewing habits) better than I do.
Sure Amazon, Goodreads, B&N, et al have star ratings…thing is, they only offer an average of everyone’s opinion without regard for individual tastes. There’s no cross-referencing going on. And in Amazon’s case, they don’t even take into account your own personal taste—I know this because it keeps recommending the second and third book in the Fallen series even though I gave the first book 2 stars. Definitely not psychic.
It’s why I wish some uber-genius would design an artificially intelligent rating system for books. Life is too short to suffer books you won’t enjoy. A Netflix-style system would make the authors happy because only the people who are likely to enjoy their books will read them and the readers would be happy because they aren’t likely to read books they wouldn’t enjoy. Win-win.
But, alas, if wishes were pennies…