How do we want to be calculated? A Public sensitivity to algorithmic computation
Our daily activities are assisted by algorithms which each of us sees differently. The exploratory research project Algoglitch seeks to define how these algorithms are becoming a political and social issue discussed in the public sphere.
Our daily activities are supported by algorithms which each of us sees differently, depending on our lifestyle, familiarity with technology, use of platforms, and hopes and fears surrounding innovation.
Following a request by the Conseil national du numérique (French national digital council) to support the “development of methodological tools and resources to improve mechanisms for feedback on issues encountered by platform users”, Médialab initiated the exploratory research project Algoglitch. The aim of this project is to define how algorithms become a political and social issue discussed in the public space.
In a world where Internet users are becoming increasingly sensitive to the algorithmic dimension at play in their use of various online platforms (e-commerce websites, video streaming, connecting users to drivers, food delivery, etc.), Algoglitch endeavours to understand how processes to raise awareness mobilize Internet users and how they can assemble a “calculated audience”.
In order to report on the experience of this “calculated audience”, the project developed a research method at the interface of design and social science. The idea was to capture the manifestations of this ambiguous sensitivity between bugs and bias, aesthetics and functioning, the technical and the political, and individual and collective experience.
As regards our research methods, particular care was put into curating a Twitter account called “Sensibilités Algorithmiques”, dedicated to collecting and sharing glitches, that is, temporary micro-disruptions of users’ experience with algorithms.
Excerpt from the glitch collection