Sunday, April 27, 2008

The mysterious Netflix queue

I have been a (very happy) Netflix subscriber for a while now. For the obvious reasons (I hate going to a movie rental place, finding out they don't have the movie I like, getting another movie and paying late fees), and for less obvious ones - like being regularly surprised at how my queue, which contains only movies I picked, looks so random to me, as if a complete stranger had done the selection.
The principle of Netflix is simple: you select on the web movies you want to see, put them in a queue, and one by one, the movies are mailed to you. Nothing random about that. And yet, when I look at my queue, for quite a few movies I have no clue when and why I put them in there. I guess it has to do with this: I tend to put movies I really want to see ahead of the queue, so obscure movies I added for odd reasons linger at the end of the pile, and spend enough time there that I forget all about them and why they are there. I was reassured to realize that it happens to others as well; L too regularly receives mysterious movies.
Anyways, in the end, I kind of like this harmless form of schizophrenia, where my doppleganger selects movies which I then watch. It's a nice chaotic process, where a deterministic process dissipates information and ends up looking random.
Well, as a result, I watched a great movie yesterday: Onibaba. You should add it to your queue.

(Image from
Do you have this same experience with your Netflix queue?

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