In the article, Writing for Algorithmic Audiences, John Gallagher writes, “social media companies use algorithms to structure what users see in their newsfeeds. Algorithms frequently order and circulate web-writing, such as what stories are “trending” on various social media platforms. Alternatively, the online retail giant Amazon uses an algorithm to determine what products to show customers as they peruse the website.”
My view of algorithms is mixed. As frustrating as they can be, sometimes I believe they have unknown benefits. For example, Instagram and Snapchat’s algorithms are annoying to me because they’re no longer in chronological order. They seem (for the most part) to have a random display of posts. Instagram, for instance, has the posts of the people you follow randomly dispersed on your newsfeed. There are even ads/sponsored posts thrown based off of things you might’ve searched for. In times that the algorithm has been appealing to me is on online retail sites. Although the main purpose of their ads and “suggestions of what you might like” are simply to entice you, I believed I have benefitted from these ads because I have found clothing and makeup products that I wouldn’t have considered before because (more often than not) they are catered to the individual’s likes.
The idea that’s particularly frustrating to me is when Gallagher states, “on the other hand, algorithms are objects distinct from their authors. Because algorithms are fundamentally a set of operations, they can escape the intentions of those who authored them and yield unintended results. They may even make decisions without the consent of those who write them.” Sometimes, the authors lose control over their work when it’s published.
- When does the idea of algorithmic audience and advertising cross the line?
- As the writer, is keeping the algorithmic audience in mind something that you should strive for when publishing online, or should you only consider the intended/personal audience?
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Gallagher, John R. “Writing for Algorithmic Audiences.” Computers and Composition, Science Direct, Sept. 2017, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S8755461516300652?via=ihub.