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At some point, I actually went through the 2009 $1m award winning algorithm that Netflix never implemented. Here’s my take on this though. Firstly, given the fact that no Netflix viewership numbers are ever disclosed, I would be very wary of calling anything a success on Netflix, even House of Cards. Sometimes, we choose to forget the fact that we hang out socially with a lot of people very much like us and assume that if 4 out of the 5 people have watched a particular show, then 80% of the globe must have watched it. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Second, Netflix, as it steps into the playing field of “feeding the monster” as they call it, has begun to realize the amount of content, just in pure play volume required to sustain customer interest. A look at the Netflix home page clarifies it, when they start with XX new shows and YY new movies added in the last week. And as much as we love to rant about HoC and Narcos, let us not forget that these are 2 albeit 3 shows that have caught universal attention. Thirdly, on the usage of data finally, Netflix realized long back that the 86000 or so genres that they had floating around were more of a distraction than enablers, as people spent hours browsing through the recommended lists, rather than actually watching content. With respect to the header images, their research told them what was so much more appreciated was a single individual on the snapshot, instead of multiplicity of characters, so they implemented it – guess what the home page looks like now – like a photo diary!

On November 20, 2016, Sayan commented on In a digital universe full of Marvel :

Half of Disney’s intent to roll out Marvel movies quicker than I can say “What the” is laziness to innovate, I think. You have great established characters and sorted storylines already, and we now know how to make a superhero movie, so let’s rampage on. With the slew of superhero movies hitting the screen, I advise at most 12 more months before serious superhero fatigue creeps in. It’s almost sickening to see the end credits of Dr. Strange, sitting there smug with Thor, as Disney laughs in your face about the impending sequel even before the original damned movie has had a chance to set in. The Marvel universe has more than 5000 characters, am I supposed to spend my whole adult life just watching franchises of these movies come and go?

On November 20, 2016, Sayan commented on HomeKit – Apple’s next Big Thing? :

Not to be proclaimed a skeptic, but I’m not impressed by this advancement in technology, which screams of incrementalism. Think about it, what additional benefit do we get from this entire ecosystem. Instead of getting out of bed to slide open the windows, an app can now do it for us? What sort of advancement in technology is this? Literally everything that Home does, will do or claims to be able to do, is already being done. Now, you wish to route everything through a smartphone?

That aside, there are advantages of letting disparate pieces be and not connecting everything. Not only does it reduce dependency on one single provider (in this case Apple), it diversifies risk. Would I really want to live in an Apple house, drive an Apple car, wear Apple clothes and eat Apple food while all the time staring at my Apple phone?

I would be a little more skeptical of this (no surprise there!). I mean, showing off the Burj Khalifa through Google cardboard is fun and sounds great and is great exposure too, but we shouldn’t forget that technology is just as good as the people who are wielding it. Google has not made idiots smarter, just because every query is searchable, in fact the opposite can be argued.

Why stop here! Big data firm, Palantir, apparently had partnered with the American government to help locate IEDs in Iraq, based on obscure data like moonlight visibility (logic being explosives would most likely be hidden in darker places, not easily spottable!)

On November 6, 2016, Sayan commented on Coke’s woes in India :

In India, most MNC’s face massive backlash on all kinds of issues like this. Not unheard of for them to be discriminated against, facing double standards and so on. However, why this problem is unique is because of the simplicity of the problem, I guess. You just cannot use large quantities of water, in an area with shortage, least of all to create Coca Cola. A large part of the water shortage problem in India is due to the inefficacy of the public infrastructure, which will not be solved in a hurry though

On November 6, 2016, Sayan commented on Creepy Crawlies & Climate Change at the CDC :

Tatiana, very interesting choice of subject. Though a thought jumps out – I’m all for innovative solutions to tackle this problem, but it wouldn’t be altogether a bad idea to take a page out of the books of countries and companies that have been dealing with this issue for decades. Interestingly enough, I have not seen a mosquito repellant in the large departmental stores in the US. Quite frankly, that would be step one. Following that would be pumped up R&D in the same field to make better products on the same lines. The key is to get rid of the mosquitos, isn’t it?

On November 6, 2016, Sayan commented on Preparing for Impact: Will Airlines Survive Climate Change? :

Nice piece Manuel. I was actually thinking of the elephant of the room while reading through the first half, though I would not be anywhere near optimistic about the long term fate. Harnessing the kind of energy required seems to be a challenge that is decades away at the very least. We are still struggling to see cars adopt electricity – the challenges would be multifold while dealing with air travel. We would need to look at a completely different form of energy creation, which would revolutionize not only this industry, but the world in general. However I am yet to read of any interesting development on that front.

Interesting choice, Noah. I would have though liked some perspective from the end consumers as well. Am assuming that skiing enthusiasts aren’t happy about this change much – with reducing options and consequently higher charges.

On November 6, 2016, Sayan commented on Will Ford Motors win the race for a greener future? :

Probably the most pertinent topic, Orly. Nicely written. A singular thought that jumps out. The traditional automobile industry is in the middle of a huge crisis. The simple reason is that construction of an electric car, requires you to basically start from scratch from a design, engineering and business perspective. Incumbents thereby will face a huge barrier to break into this space. More on this here

On November 6, 2016, Sayan commented on Is it all a Hoax? The GOP and Climate Change :

Interesting post, Clemens. A few thoughts that jump out – When Trump speaks about anything, he does so with the idea of creating sensationalizing headlines, which is part of a well thought out strategy, given his paucity of funds. Also given the fact that his stance on pretty much everything from immigration to international relations has seen a 180 degree reversal, I’m not sure that this is the positioning that he believes in. Also, when a presidential candidate has such secretive plans for his plans to tackle ISIS, which is a more important issue as far as the elections is concerned, having a carefully thought out plan seems beyond his grasp. That being said, I agree with the seriousness posed. For decades, we have struggled to understand whether man made climate change is actually real or a hoax. There are experts on both sides with tonnes of arguments. Within this divided construct, what an American presidential candidate says is critical as the world follows the American presidential race like no other.