Let’s Bring Back Old Fashioned Recommendations

The Beatles were a little bit too keen with ‘Eight Days A Week’, but at least they got the number right.

Eight is a key number in understanding the flood of media that the internet offers the world. Arguably set up by Samuel Duncan Parnell with the statement “There are twenty-four hours per day given us; eight of these should be for work, eight for sleep, and the remaining eight for recreation and in which for men to do what little things they want for themselves.”

Putting aside the nineteenth century attitudes of who should be working, the 888 split sets out just how little time there is to consume media, as well as dealing with IRL needs such as meals, family time, and deciding what to wear.

How often do you find yourself watching one more episode on Netflix thanks to the autoplay? Catch yourself wondering when the album finished and the suggested songs started playing on Spotify? You’ve been caught inside the powerful trap of the recommendation engines and a desire to keep you anchored in a single service. The more time you spend on a major service, the more likely you are of being monetized by that service… and less likely to move to another service.

Parnell’s paradigm gives you just a few hours to ‘spend’ each day. You could idle in front of a list of suggestions spending those hours like they were quarters by a Las Vegas, or you could do something else.

Stop.

At the end of a show, get into the habit of pressing stop. What do you want to do next? Do you really want to watch the next episode, or do you want to enjoy the cliffhanger for a day or two. Do you really want to be slowly pulled back to Taylor Swift after finishing the latest album from Smith and Thell? Are you in the mood to continue with another political podcast?

If the answer is yes, that’s great, because you made the decision. If the answer is no, then you can also make the next decision on what to do next. Be it from your own personal list, a recommendation from a friend, or a genuinely random choice; just don’t let the recommendation engine keep you locked in.

This weekend, look up, look around, and look for something new.