Friday, January 11, 2008

Community Effects

It's friday night and i should be doing something else, but the kids are finally asleep and my wife is downstairs having tea with a friend. And i'm wondering if you'll allow me to think outloud.

Netflix has got almost 100,000 titles.* A lot of content. Some of it has been seen by lots of folks and some by few. Some is quality and some is crappy. I've watched a lot of it -- some of y'all have watched TONS -- but as individuals we've still only scratched the surface... having seen about 2-4% of this catalog would make you fanatical. And more comes in all the time.

You're the "community" at Netflix. The people who like movies, watch a lot of movies, and talk about movies with some frequency. I wonder how you can help us find movies to get, help us identify the good stuff, and then help spread the word to other (less exploratory) people? What is the best way to do this? Really. How would you propose we maximize our collective wisdom about movies and get that in front of other people? The studios pay a fortune to generate interest in their super expensive movies. It's easy to find those. The new releases, as current debates would indicate, have plenty of interest in them. The question is how to discover hidden gems and generate interest in them.

Sophisticated searching tools will help some people, certainly. But most people don't use them, and instead rely on either netflix's predictions, or other people, to help them find something good to watch. While Todd and team work to make the predictions better -- my bet is that a community of people can be a better tool to find, vet, and recommend movies. So how can we do a better job of that? Help me prove this is a more powerful recommendation tool.


(*I'm not trying to overstate this; it was 85K, then 90K, it will sometime be 100K and soon after that even more. The point is this is a big number.)