erik lundegaard

WANTED: Algorithmic Help for Netflix

I was doing research on “The Wizard of Oz” recently when I came across this latest horrific example of Netflix's recommendation algorithm:

"More Like The Wizard of Oz": Netflix

If you'd asked me to name a thousand movies that were similar to “The Wizard of Oz,” I wouldn't have named any of these. Who is screwing things up at Netflix? Who was fired, and who was hired, and who is running things into the ground there?

As an experiment, I tried it at These are the recommendations for their “Wizard of Oz” page:

IMDb recommendations on "The Wizard of Oz" page

That's a little more like it.

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Posted at 11:49 AM on Sun. Nov 06, 2011 in category Technology  


Reed wrote:

Just days before I quit a great job as a statistician and went on a country-wide road trip with the hopes of becoming a professional writer, Netflix almost derailed the whole thing. On to accept a connection, I saw a posting for Director of Analytics at Netflix. This was basically my “dream job”. Based on my previous 10 yeras of analytics work, I was perfectly qualified for it. It was in the bay area, a place I'd always wanted to live. More than anything I was salivating over the amount of access to “movie data” that would have been at my fingertips, nay my occupation! Like someone buying a Powerball ticket, I was already assuming that victory would be mine.

But I had other fish to fry at the time, and this only served as the “last temptation of Reed.” What I saw in the aftermath of my endeavor was a lot of publishers saying my book was a good idea-and-they'd-like-to-read-it-when-it-comes-out-but-no-we-won't-be-putting-it-out-sorry-best-of-luck, and Netflix continuing to struggle with their analytics programs.

It's OK. I later moved to Argentina, met my wife there and now I've just moved to Switzerland. I absolutely cannot complain about anything. But I still can't help feeling like back in 2007 Netflix and I passed like two ships on a foggy night - an unrequited match made with SAS code.

(I realize I am oversharing here, sorry to hijack the post.)

Comment posted on Sun. Nov 06, 2011 at 01:45 PM

Erik wrote:

It wasn't much of a post to hijack. I encourage all readers to outdo the post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Reed.

Comment posted on Sun. Nov 06, 2011 at 02:29 PM
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