New Netflix Feature on iOS Opts for Human Curation over Algorithm

Prioritizing human curation over algorithms feels like a unique direction to take in today’s technology-laden world. While many companies are turning to iOS app development, AI, and algorithms to help them complete tasks quicker and more efficiently, Netflix is taking up the challenge of experimenting with doing the complete opposite.

Human curation and Netflix

Available on iOS, the Collections feature in Netflix relies on the expertise of its creative team to give customers search results with more of human touch. Content is still collected and organized by genre, tone, etc., but this change in curation will ideally give you more content you want to watch.

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While it’s unclear whether this new feature will become permanent and available to everyone, the change initiated because of clutter. While algorithms work great at collecting film suggestions in more niche genres, it was making results in more general categories feel too congested.

“Using actual people to recommend new and exciting films could make the service feel more personal like you’re being recommended things to watch by a good friend.” Says Brandon Russell writing for iMore.

Not the first to use a human touch

Netflix isn’t the first entertainment company to take this personal approach to curate suggestions for customers. Amazon, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Facebook also utilizes human curation. Apple Music was motivated to demote the use of algorithms because of a design to keep humanity in music and focus on the art and craft of how music connects to itself rather than an algorithm just looking at bits and bytes. Both Apple Music and iTunes offer an extensive list of hand-curated playlists as well to keep a human element in the music.

Why algorithms don’t always win

When it comes to content curation, it seems that the more, we have the more we feel we must rely on algorithms and automated recommendation systems to provide us with results. Using algorithms to make recommendations to customers without human intervention came into existence in the late 1990s. Yet throughout this change, people never lost the desire for the human touch. “Far from disappearing, human curation and sensibilities have a new value in the age of algorithms…we also increasingly want informed and idiosyncratic selections,” says Michael Bhaskar in The Guardian.

Algorithmic recommendations, machine learning, AI and big data still very much have their place in the world of content curation, but when it comes to arts and humanities, there seems to be a counter-argument to machine learning.

More than correlations

With a human touch added into content curation, search results become more than just correlations. An algorithm isn’t giving you results based on one or two pre-programmed data points, but rather a real person is finding distinctive options, tracked down just for you. Real-time and energy put into gathering search results, and this level of care creates recommendations a customer can find useful.

Less content overload

The other drawback to search results generated solely by an algorithm is the sheer volume. With a set of raw and unfettered choices, a person can scroll endlessly in search of a recommendation that aligns with what they were looking to find. The search becomes a proverbial hunt for a needle in a haystack of information that claims to be meant just for you. Human curation removes the needless searching through an overwhelming amount of search results by crafting results that make more sense for what you want to find.

Will automation ever stand alone?

There’s no way to know if a system for curating content will ever produce ideal results through automation alone. One day AI With the innovations, in one can learn enough about algorithmic content as well as search habits to recommend to the real person. We’re not there yet though, and at least for now, many of your movie, music and even product searches will include results put there by an actual person looking out for your best interests.

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