Evgeny Morozov over at Slate:
Of all the startups that launched last year, Fuzz is certainly one of the most intriguing and the most overlooked. Describing itself as a “people-powered radio” that is completely “robot-free,” Fuzz bucks the trend toward ever greater reliance on algorithms in discovering new music. Fuzz celebrates the role played by human DJs—regular users who are invited to upload their own music to the site in order to create and share their own “radio stations.”
The idea—or, perhaps, hope—behind Fuzz is that human curators can still deliver something that algorithms cannot; it aspires to be the opposite of Pandora, in which the algorithms do all the heavy lifting. As its founder, Jeff Yasuda, told Bloomberg News last September, “there’s a big need for a curated type of experience and just getting back to the belief that the most compelling recommendations come from a human being.”
But while Fuzz's launch attracted little attention, the growing role of algorithms in all stages of artistic production is becoming impossible to ignore. Most recently, this role was highlighted by Andrew Leonard, the technology critic for Salon, in an intriguing article about House of Cards, Netflix's first foray into original programming. The series' origin myth is by now well-known: Having studied its user logs, Netflix discovered that a remake of the British series of the same name could be a huge hit, especially if it also featured Kevin Spacey and was directed by David Fincher.
“Can the auteur survive in an age when computer algorithms are the ultimate focus group?” asked Leonard. He wondered how the massive amounts of data that Netflix has gathered while users were streaming the first season of the series—how many times did they click the pause button?—would affect future episodes.
Many other industries are facing similar questions. For example, Amazon, through its Kindle e-reader, collects vast troves of information about reading habits of its users: what books they finish and what books they don't; what sections they tend to skip and which they read most diligently; how often they look up certain words in the dictionary and underline passages. (Amazon is hardly alone here: Other e-book players are as guilty.)