On the other hand, no one — not even Yellin — is quite sure why there are so many altgenres that feature Raymond Burr and Barbara Hale. It’s inexplicable with human logic. It’s just something that happened. I tried on a bunch of different names for the Perry Mason thing: ghost, gremlin, not-quite-a-bug. What do you call the something-in-the-code-and-data which led to the existence of these microgenres? The vexing, remarkable conclusion is that when companies combine human intelligence and machine intelligence, some things happen that we cannot understand. “Let me get philosophical for a minute. In a human world, life is made interesting by serendipity,” Yellin told me. “The more complexity you add to a machine world, you’re adding serendipity that you couldn’t imagine. Perry Mason is going to happen. These ghosts in the machine are always going to be a by-product of the complexity. And sometimes we call it a bug and sometimes we call it a feature.”
This piece on Netflix’s altgenres is a solid bit of reporting on the intersection of tech and culture, although it never really gets very adventurous—until the very end. Perry Mason as an emergent property of the service’s hybrid approach to recommendations. Just delicious.