Meet the Professor Behind Netflix's 'The Great Hack'

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David Carroll sued Cambridge Analytica after news broke that it used Facebook user data for targeted political advertising. Netflix’s The Great Hack tells his story, and Business Insider interviewed him.

My pursuit is a highly individualized narrative, which obscures the reality that it’s a story about all of us. Quitting your Facebook account doesn’t do anything. You can try to do the work of going through all your settings and being really hygienic about your data, but it’s only going to reduce the scope of data leaking all over the place. It’s certainly not going to have a total effect that people might want.

I’m putting this on my list to watch.

Netflix Cancels 'The OA'

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Netflix canceled The OA on Monday. And that sucks. It was a fascinating show that used unconventional story-telling structures. While I’m bummed, I’m not necessarily surprised. See the afore-mentioned note about unconventional story-telling structures. Netflix has cut a couple of other shows in the wake of a worse-than-expected quarterly earnings report for the June quarter. TechCrunch covered the cancelation, and here’s their description:

Created by Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij, “The OA” begins with the reappearance a young woman named Prairie Johnson (played by Marling), who disappeared several years earlier. The ensuing story goes in some pretty wild directions to explain where the previously blind Johnson has been for the past few years, how she regained her sight and why she now calls herself The OA.

Orange Is The New Black Final Season Trailer

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The trailer for season seven of Orange Is The New Black is up on YouTube. Breaking down the fourth wall, it features all the inmates backstage, preparing to shoot, singing the now-famous theme song. Season seven will be the final season of the show. It will be available on Netflix from July 26.

Clicker for Netflix Puts Netflix Controls on the Touch Bar

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Clicker for Netflix is a cool Mac app that lets you control Netflix right from your Touch Bar. Launch Netflix right from the Dock, control it with the Touch Bar, use Picture-in-Picture to watch while multitasking, prevent trailers from auto-playing, auto-resume your last played video, automatically skip the video intro, automatically advance to the next episode, hide the “Who’s Watching?” popup, and remove the Netflix Originals row. The Touch Bar controls include play/pause, jump back 10 seconds, jump forward 10 seconds, go to the next episode, enable/disable closed captions, and launch Picture-in-Picture. It requires macOS 10.10 Yosemite or higher. Get the app for US$5.

Clicker for Netflix Puts Netflix Controls on the Touch Bar

Beyoncé's Coachella Performance Coming to Netflix

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Over the weekend Netflix announced Beyoncé’s Coachella performance will be coming to the service on April 17.

…a trailer that dropped today promises the special, called Homecoming: A Film By Beyoncé, will be “interspersed with candid footage and interviews detailing the preparation and powerful intent behind her vision, [the movie] traces the emotional road from creative concept to cultural movement.”

Bandersnatch-Ing Data from Interactive Netflix Show

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Bandersnatch, the interactive Black Mirror movie on Netflix, was something of a hit. Viewers could pick the narrative path they went down. However, the Register reported on research that showed the data about choices could be snooped on using network packet analysis. Indeed, the scientists behind the research claims that they successfully determined what choice users made 96% of the time.

When viewers watching the video choose one of the two narrative paths at various branch points in the story, that information gets sent back to Netflix to display the appropriate video segment. And it turns out to be possible to discern which branch each viewer took through network packet analysis. In a paper just released through pre-print service ArXiv, “White Mirror: Leaking Sensitive Information from Interactive Netflix Movies using Encrypted Traffic Analysis,” a handful of the institute’s computer scientists show that story choices – sent from the viewer’s browser to Netflix via a JSON file – can be inferred despite the encryption of network traffic.

With Roma, Netflix Could Become Hollywood Royalty

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Roma Netlflix

Netflix film Roma is hotly tipped in the best picture category Oscar at Sunday night’s Academy Awards. Were it to win, it would mark a significant moment for digital media in general, and Netflix in particular. Lucas Shaw wrote on Bloomberg News that it would be proof that the company has gone from being a techy outsider to Hollywood royalty. With increased investment in original content, it looks like a tech company will be winning an Oscar in the very near future.

“Roma” is the first nominee for best picture that was essentially a digital release — though it had a limited theatrical run — and Netflix would be the first technology company to clinch Hollywood’s top prize. Whether or not Netflix wins, an online movie will certainly be crowned best picture sooner or later, said Rich Greenfield, an analyst with BTIG LLC. Amazon.com Inc. and Apple Inc. are both spending billions of dollars on programming, and even Walt Disney Co. plans to release digital movies that won’t appear in theaters.

How Netflix Makes the World Smaller With International Culture

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An opinion piece by Farhad Manjoo caught my eye. He writes how, instead of Netflix exporting American culture, it shares international culture with everyone.

Despite a supposed surge in nationalism across the globe, many people like to watch movies and TV shows from other countries. “What we’re learning is that people have very diverse and eclectic tastes, and if you provide them with the world’s stories, they will be really adventurous, and they will find something unexpected,” Cindy Holland, Netflix’s vice president for original content, told me.

Mr. Manjoo also mentions the difference between Netflix and other tech companies. Netflix sells subscriptions, not advertising. I think this is an important difference, in case foreigners get a negative impression from our typically garish ads.

Remember Bandersnatch? Netflix Saved Your Choices

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Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch is a choose-your-own-adventure game that went viral. As it turns out, Netflix saved the choices you made.

He found that Netflix is tracking the decisions its users make (which makes sense considering how the film works), and that it is keeping those decisions long after a user has finished the film. It is also stores aggregated forms of the users choice to “help [Netflix] determine how to improve this model of storytelling in the context of a show or movie.”

This doesn’t seem like a huge issue to me. This is standard analytics the platform keeps.