Yahoo! Movie Recommendation Technology, A Mixed Bag


Yahoo! Movie Recommendations – The Unofficial Google Weblog – google.weblogsinc.com _ One of the things that I’ve complained about in the past is that recommendation technology does not really seem to work for me. I stopped going to TiVo’s suggestions a long time ago because I just couldn’t find anything super relevant there. I loved the idea and diligently used the thumbs up thumbs down thing for months but it seemed my TiVo just couldn’t figure me out. Such is life.

Recently I was excited to try out Yahoo!’s new movie recommendations. It had been suggested to me that this might represent new and improved technology so I gave it a test run. I rated 75 movies that I’d seen in the Yahoo! catalog and then checked to see what it came back with for me.

So here are the movies that I rated high at the top of my list. Some of these are some of my all time favorites: Barfly, Heathers, Sideways, Pulp Fiction, Broadcast News, The Player, Husbands and Wives, Glengarry Glen Ross, Wall Street, Boiler Room, Singles, High Fidelity, American Beauty, Goodfellas, When Harry Met Sally (I know, don’t laugh), As Good as It Gets, Short Cuts, Deconstructing Harry, Malice, Grace of My Heart, Copland, Blue Velvet, American Wedding, The Big Chill, Say Anything, Reservoir Dogs, Back to the Future, Jerry Maguire, Fargo, Ransom, and Casino.

There are obviously more movies that I like and some that I’d like much more than these but of the 75 that I browsed all of these got either an A+ or an A from me.

I only rated 7 movies C- or worse: The Joy Luck Club, The Piano (yawn), Mrs. Doubtfire, The English Patient (and the very very very patient English Patient), The Name of the Rose, Monsters Inc., and Airplane.

So most of what was recommended that came back to me I’d never seen. But based on the above, the recommendations that came back that I’d already seen included Apollo 13, The Wedding Singer, The Graduate, Heat, Fandango and Get Shorty. I didn’t really enjoy Apollo 13 or The Wedding Singer. I would have been disappointed based on these recommendations. On the other hand they weren’t terrible either. I kind of liked Heat, Get Shorty and The Graduate. And I’m bonkers about Fandango, it’s one of my favorite movies of all time.

On the other hand, there were some suggestions that came back that although I haven’t seen (and maybe I’m being closed minded here), I just went no way. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera (ewwwww). I fell asleep during the theatrical performance when my wife made me go to the theater to see this back when we were dating (and it was a birthday present for me no less). The Philadelphia Story with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn? Um, no thanks.

One thing I did like about Yahoo!’s service is that it allows you to review your previously rated choices. I’ve always wished that TiVo gave me the ability to go back and review my past choices. I’m convinced that accidental choices are one of the things that plagues my bad recommendations on TiVo. Why not let me fix them?

By the way, want to have real fun with a good friend who swears by TiVo Suggestions? Next time you are over at their house sneak off and give everything on the Home Shopping Network and the Game Show Network three thumbs up. Then the next time they are bragging about how good the technology is have them pull up their suggestions. Hilarity ensues. Cruel, but fun.

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