I’m really excited to share my new essay, “The Relevance of Algorithms,” with those of you who are interested in such things. It’s been a treat to get to think through the issues surrounding algorithms and their place in public culture and knowledge, with some of the participants in Culture Digitally (here’s the full litany: Braun, Gillespie, Striphas, Thomas, the third CD podcast, and Anderson‘s post just last week), as well as with panelists and attendees at the recent 4S and AoIR conferences, with colleagues at Microsoft Research, and with all of you who are gravitating towards these issues in their scholarship right now.
The motivation of the essay was two-fold: first, in my research on online platforms and their efforts to manage what they deem to be “bad content,” I’m finding an emerging array of algorithmic techniques being deployed: for either locating and removing sex, violence, and other offenses, or (more troublingly) for quietly choreographing some users away from questionable materials while keeping it available for others. Second, I’ve been helping to shepherd along this anthology, and wanted my contribution to be in the spirit of the its aims: to take one step back from my research to articulate an emerging issue of concern or theoretical insight that (I hope) will be of value to my colleagues in communication, sociology, science & technology studies, and information science.
The anthology will ideally be out in Fall 2013. And we’re still finalizing the subtitle. So here’s the best citation I have.
Read the full essay by Tarleton Gillespie, Cornell University Department of Communication