11: Finding Your (Algo)Rhythm

Image by Big Oak Inc. Retrieved from BigOakFlickr.

Before reading Gallagher’s article, I had mostly heard about algorithms in regards to YouTube, since I know a lot of friends and content creators who worry about visibility on the site. I’d always wondered how small creators ended up in my “suggested videos” feed, but if factors like “uploading videos with consistent content” (Gallagher 27) increase circulation, then that might explain it. After all, some of these creators only have a couple hundred views or subscribers, but algorithms are apparently a very complicated thing.

It’s an unfortunate, inescapable fact that we pretty much have to write for algorithms if we want to reach a wider audience. Jordyn spoke to this in her post, where she talked about the struggles of getting her blog off the ground. I encountered similar problems when editing a website for an on-campus magazine. One of the features our staff chose for the magazine makes our site’s loading time much slower, which in turn could potentially impact our site’s SEO (search engine optimization). Ultimately, I decided to let the feature stay, but I did worry about how that could affect our chances of circulation. Do viewers really want to sit and wait for a page that takes 10 seconds to load? I feel like the answer’s no, but feel free to disagree.

Granted, page speed is just a small part of Google’s algorithm, but it indicates that you really do have to consider “invisible” factors when it comes to writing for algorithms. Content isn’t the only thing to keep in mind, and Gallagher speaks to this when he says that composers should take things like metadata into account. According to him, we should be “attending to the writing around a text as well the text itself” (32). This includes “tagging, search functionalities, and qualitative affordances” (Gallagher 32).

My questions, then, are:

  • Do you think algorithms could be changed/improved to help less well-known content creators? If so, how? Or, as Gallagher’s article suggests, do you think we need to focus more on teaching content creators how to compose for algorithms?
  • When you search something on YouTube or Google, are the “top hits” typically what you’re looking for? If not, do you have to scroll for a while to find what you want? How might this be the fault of algorithms?



Word count: 379

Works Cited:

Gallagher, John R. “Composing for Algorithmic Audiences.” Computers and Composition, Vol. 45, 207, pp. 25–35.