Ratings, Scores, Context and Sneezing

A while back, I watched Never Been Thawed a 90-minute, independent, very comprehensive, mockumentary. There was a lot going on in the movie. Lots of different story lines and highly-developed character relationships. More so than I’ve seen in many a documentary (the non-mocking kind). No, NBT isn’t a Spinal Tap or a Best In Show, but it is a good effort in that direction by a lesser known cast.

Now bounce all that off your taste and everything else you know about me. Do you think you’ll like the movie? Do you even have enough information to say?

The problem is single-attribute rating/ranking/tagging systems. They provide only the most basic value – and always with a caveat. Case in point – searching the web for any single keyword rarely provides anything useful.

Tim’s rethinking his wine rating system – maybe something more detailed albeit less glance-able.

Over the weekend, I found the ‘Origins’ wine label on store shelves – Temparnillo, Malbec, (2 of my favorites) and other varietals from around the world – all under the same label. On the back, 3 scales indicate where a specific varietal falls on the flavor scale. Three-times the information than a single score.

While even 3 scales can’t replace the wealth of information found in personal recommendations, it’s more than an arbitrary number or letter. But, what were the biases and preferences of the person that declared where a specific wine fell on each scale?

In nearly each episode of Winecast, Tim discloses his preference for “fruit-forward” wines. If Tim and I share the same definition of “fruit-forward”, I have some context for determining if a ranking of ’83’ is something I’ll like or dislike. If I don’t know if we share the same definition – I pick up that specific wine and see if my tasting matches his. And repeat.

All this metadata is why recommendations from someone you know really well is far more valuable and those from Amazon, Netflix, etc just aren’t.

Yes, this is word-of-mouth, and yes, we are all doing this today when we IM a YouTube link. There’s got to be a better place to sneeze.

3 thoughts on “Ratings, Scores, Context and Sneezing

  1. It’s a little more complicated with wine ratings than movies as the movie is the same for each viewer. With wine there are many variables always at play: the condition of the wine, the cork, the bottling run and what I had for breakfast to name a few.

    It’s funy as I’m writing my disclaimer now for my notes… the numbers are only relative to other wines I tasted within the same time frame; something like a month is a good measure. So the prose is much more informative since this only subtly evolves over time.

    This whole thing really works best when I write about a large tasting, as I am now for a big Zinfandel event I recently attended, where 70 wines were tasted (with much spitting, of course).

    But nothing should replace your own experience tasting the wines.

  2. Tim, I think the same quantity of variables exist for movies as wine as anything else.

    A long time ago, alone in an empty theater the movie I was watching had me in stitches. Each time I’m attempted to watch it since – I wonder what had me going – then hit ‘stop’.

  3. In terms of film recommendations, I find that my wife agrees more with Netflix / Amazon recommendations than with my own. I wonder at the significance therein.

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