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Algorithming the Algorithm

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Imagine sailing across the ocean. The sun is shining, vastness all around you. And suddenly [BOOM] you’ve hit an invisible wall. Welcome to the Truman Show! Ever since Eli Pariser published his thoughts on a potential filter bubble, this movie scenario seems to have become reality, just with slight changes: it’s not the ocean, it’s the internet we’re talking about, and it’s not a TV show producer, but algorithms that constitute a sort of invisible wall. Building on this assumption, most research is trying to ‘tame the algorithmic tiger’. While this is a valuable and often inspiring approach, we would like to emphasize another side to the algorithmic everyday life. We argue that algorithms can instigate and facilitate imagination, creativity, and frivolity, while saying something that is simultaneously old and new, always almost repeating what was before but never quite returning. We show this by threading together stimulating quotes and screenshots from Google’s autocomplete algorithms. In doing so, we invite the reader to re-explore Google’s autocomplete algorithms in a creative, playful, and reflexive way, thereby rendering more visible some of the excitement and frivolity that comes from being and becoming part of the riddling rhythm of the algorithmic everyday life.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSociety of the Query Reader : Reflections on Web Search
Volume#9
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
Publication date1 Sep 2014
Pages256-270
ISBN (Print)978-90-818575-8-1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2014

ID: 82023308