Heard on CultureShift

Who Has Better Taste in Content: Your Friend or the Algorithm?

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Image credit: Freestocks / Unsplash

In an article for Business Insider, writer Drew Austin explores how streaming services like Netflix and Spotify use algorithms to recommend new content, but nothing beats the human touch.

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Did you discover your new favorite band on your own — or did an online algorithm plant it in front of you? And does it matter if you find it organically or as the result of a larger marketing scheme?

Those are the questions that writer Drew Austin explores in “Algorithms were supposed to make finding new music and movies a breeze — but they actually suck. Turns out nothing beats the human touch,” as part of his Business Insider tech column. Austin also writes about cities, technology and culture for his weekly newsletter Kneeling Bus.

He writes about a conversation he had with a friend about the algorithm and how it seemed to be off the mark. According to Austin, his friend summed up tastemaking, saying, “The way you find out what’s cool is someone cooler than you telling you what’s cool.”

That line stuck with him. Today, “… We do have really sophisticated algorithms telling us what we like all the time, but the ultimate source of your own taste is people around you,” he says. 

The way you find out what’s cool is someone cooler than you telling you what’s cool. … We do have really sophisticated algorithms telling us what we like all the time, but the ultimate source of your own taste is people around you.” — Drew Austin, writer


Listen: Drew Austin talks about algorithms versus personal recommendations when it comes to discovering new music and movies.

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Ryan Patrick Hooper, Host, CultureShift

Ryan Patrick Hooper is the award-winning host and producer of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. As a longtime arts and culture reporter and photographer, Hooper has covered stories for NPR, Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, SPIN and Paste magazine.

hooper@wdet.org Follow @HooperRadio

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