11: Algorithmic Audiences

Before reading Writing for Algorithmic Audiences, I knew very little about algorithms. My knowledge was pretty much limited to the fact that they’re some sort of code that determines what items show up in the  “you might like these” bar at the bottom of my screen when I am online shopping. I found it interesting that algorithms could potentially be the “audience” for writing, as Gallagher describes (27). However, I’m still pretty confused about how someone could write specifically for a computer code rather than the people they want to read their work. Similar to Kes, I’m having trouble understanding how a computer code could possibly be considered an audience, and how digital creators can write things that are “tailored” to such codes. I understand it in the sense that in today’s day and age, writing for digital platforms is the easiest way to circulate content quickly, but I also know that the majority of stuff on the internet I will never see because of algorithms set in place that drive me towards certain content. So who’s in charge of writing these algorithms, and how can we be sure their searching for the right material online? Gallagher admits that sometimes algorithms can be “biased” and “unfair”, but in his opinion, the benefits outweigh the risks. I’m not sure I agree with him.

One thing I do agree with Gallagher about is the importance of the participatory audience with online texts. With the amount of time people spend online today, it’s important to think about creating shareable material to gain more attention. I also agree with the idea that metadata can be helpful in organizing and categorizing material, although I don’t think it should be used to “filter out” or “block” certain material from being viewed because its metadata isn’t “trending”.

I understand what Gallagher is trying to say in his article, but I just can’t seem to agree with him. There have to be other ways we can tailor to certain audiences and gain digital “attention” without strictly using computer coding as a source for circulation and distribution.

  1. How would a writer writing for an algorithm as the audience view the rhetoric of their piece differently than a writer writing for a specific group of people? Is the rhetoric different because the algorithm is an inhuman audience?
  2. How do participatory audiences affect algorithms? Does participation influence how algorithms change?

Word Count: 402

Gallagher, John R. “Writing for Algorithmic Audiences.” Computers and Composition, 2017, p. 25-35.