And Chill: A bot, not an innuendo.

No, this post is not about the symbolic meaning of "Netflix and Chill." The clever designers of this bot have named it as such in order to conjure the implication, but that part is not that interesting to me. This bot's functionality is what has my attention.

One of the greatest challenges of information glut is organizing it. We've all had that vertiginous sensation of knowing the there's SO MUCH available, but digging through multiple collections is stultifying. The big and small media companies are hard at work to find solutions to this problem, and while they scramble we'll probably continue to see projects like this one.

And Chill is a bot that utilizes a little input from you, and a lot of input from whoknowswhere, to recommend movie choices. You text the app (213-297-3673) asking for a suggestion, tell it something that you've liked, and presto: you get a recommendation. According to an article in Engadget, the app "uses a few different frameworks to detect patterns, attributes, and other factors" to produce suggested films.

The site tells you to either send a text or utilize Facebook Messenger. Hmm. Something's up with that. The developers are Sense Technologies, which does not appear to be a Facebook affiliate, but something tells me that it is. Well, Engadget straight up makes the connection, but I don't see factual evidence. But, such a link would answer my main question: how do you do it? It's entirely possible that this app is collecting enough user data to be able to tailor responses, but it doesn't appear have the massive audience it would need. If it's culling data from Facebook, in collusion with the site of course, *that* would provide an answer. If this bot is reading user data for media references and preferences (they ask you what you like when you sign up!), the bot would certainly have a lot of opinion to work with. If we are to believe Engadget's implication, Facebook is hoping to offer more bot's for media consumption in the future, and this is either one of them or an example of what's to come.

Participant Cinema: Make Your Avatar a Star

Ready Player One is one of the most enjoyable and intelligent trade sci-fi books to appear in years. Without giving away too much, the premise is about regular users occupying and hacking a virtual world named OASIS. Themes of user engagement, activity and collective intelligence run throughout the novel. 

Warner Brothers and Steven Spielberg are working on a film adaptation right now. As I read the novel, I could clearly imagine what a movie would look and feel like. It's a cinematic novel. When I heard that Spielberg is at the helm I felt pang of sadness as I wasn't sure his heavy-handed directorial style would work with the intelligence and subtleties found in the book. But, then I remembered Minority Report. Spielberg did not ruin that adaptation; in fact, I think he did a pretty decent job of depicting Phillip K. Dick's complex story.

One indicator that this movie has hope is the manner in which the folks involved (including the book's author) are including regular users, just as the OASIS engineers/owners do in the book. Follow this link to see the CFA (Call for Avatar). They're inviting gamers and designers to create their own avatars, a few of which will be chosen to appear in the film. The old commie in me sees a red (haha) flag in that the media companies are now asking us to produce content that we will then pay to consume later. But, another view, a less dark one, sees this gesture as one wholly appropriate to the story and our current context.