11: Writing For Algorithmic Audiences

How does your writing change when you write for algorithms?

Have you ever seen an algorithm go wrong, and if so how was it handled by the people in charge of the algorithm? How did the people who use that algorithm react?

Found on http://www.libertinelondon.com/2015/12/what-twitter-hashtags-tell-us-about-human-nature/

Like many others, my main interaction with algorithms is through social media. I also encounter algorithms when I use search engines. On my YouTube channel I often think about algorithms when I post videos. It changes how I write the description and the metadata. I also think about algorithms when I write Tweets, trying to incorporate popular hashtags into my posts. When I don’t have an idea for an Odyssey article, I look at the trending hashtags.

Algorithms like this seem to ask us to be people who focus on what’s popular and timely, rather than what is timeless. Once something stops being viral, it fades into obscurity and is considered “old” rather than being something worth keeping around. Preference is given to blog writers who stay on top of the trends and are able to predict them.

Gallagher discusses this in his article Writing for Algorithmic Audiences. “Writers, as content producers, contend with marketing, advertising, and programming. This means they take on multiple roles: circulating content on various social media platforms, monitoring website analytics, curating metadata, managing comments, and recirculating older writing to new venues.”

I have the same conflict as Hannah and Emily: As a writer, I am stubborn. I don’t like sacrificing artistic integrity for the sake of an algorithm, even if I understand how important it is to write for an algorithmic audience. This is something I am in constant conflict with myself over, especially in my Odyssey writing. I am always trying to find ways to write about what I think is important, and connect it to something that is popular.

Word count: 318

Gallagher, John R. “Writing for Algorithmic Audiences.” Computers and Composition