What’s wrong with genres?

October 5th, 2008 by Ben

Genre is the entertainment industry’s main organizing concept. And Wikipedia tells us the problem: “Genres are vague categories with no fixed boundaries.”

If I say, “This is an action movie,” do you know enough to risk several hours of your time?

Without better ways to organize content, market leaders like Netflix invented a set of new genres to reflect variations on a few. Check it out to see whether the approach is easy to use. I don’t think so.

In the end, genre is good enough when professionals select content for us, but too limiting when we’re selecting for ourselves. While genre is a useful secondary concept, we need a more expressive primary language.

I believe we understand video experientially and emotionally – and that’s how we naturally look for what to watch. (e.g. “I feel like a light, upbeat movie.”) Genre just doesn’t capture that. At Jinni, we aim to create a multifaceted discovery engine that does.

Take Assassination of a High School President, which is releasing March 2009. Usually it’s catalogued as a comedy. On Jinni, it’s catalogued based on our Movie Genome. Users could come across it by searching a mix of words and phrases including Clever, Suspenseful, Cheating, Journalism, Teen Life, Neo-noir or while looking for movies that are similar to Brick, Young Sherlock Holmes, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and more.

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