Everybody needs editorial staff

Earlier this week I stumbled upon an article shared by my friend and mentor Vuk ĆosićHow Netflix Reverse Engineered Hollywood.

Netflix has been a role model to many companies outside the software bubble, especially to content providers. In the last couple of years, it’s been brought up on meetings far more often than say Google, which was everyone’s example of a successful company some 5–6 years ago.

While it makes perfect sense to many of us who work with content on the web, I’m amazed about the fact that a company actually employed a platoon of movie specialists to watch, review and extensively tag movies. The author of the article, Alexis Madrigal and the developer Ian Bogost — have been able to reverse-engineer a massive number of 76,897 micro-genres.

To quote Vuk, it’s a smooth porn for information architects.

How they did it?

They paid people to watch films and tag them with all kinds of metadata. This process is so sophisticated and precise that taggers receive a 36-page training document that teaches them how to rate movies on their sexually suggestive content, goriness, romance levels, and even narrative elements like plot conclusiveness.

How it helps the user?

The human language of the genres helps people identify with recommendations.

How it helps the entertainment industry?

The data can’t tell them how to make a TV show, but it can tell them what they should be making. When they create a show like House of Cards, they aren’t guessing at what people want.

Pro tip: Bookmark the article and use it as a supporting material next time you suggest hiring a dedicated editorial team to your boss or a client.

Marko Dugonjić is a designer specialized in user experience design, web typography and web standards. He runs a nanoscale user interface studio Creative Nights and organizes FFWD.PRO, a micro-conference and workshops for web professionals.

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