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What Users Do to Algorithms : How everyday experiences and imagination shape algorithmic outcomes

Witzenberger, Kevin LU (2017) MKVM13 20171
Media and Communication Studies
Abstract
The phenomenon, in which algorithms preselect information, can be observed in most as-pects of our everyday life. More and more decisions are left to computational processes without human intrusion. This development raises concerns about ‘algorithmic power’ and human agency within an ever more digitalized world.

While much of the research around algorithms is committed to their technical understand-ing – ‘algorithmic power’ has just recently become a subject in critical media studies. In particular, the study of ‘algorithmic power’ from a user’s perspective has attracted research only from a handful of scholars.

But this is becoming ever more important; many command structures within algorithms aim at data from users themselves.... (More)
The phenomenon, in which algorithms preselect information, can be observed in most as-pects of our everyday life. More and more decisions are left to computational processes without human intrusion. This development raises concerns about ‘algorithmic power’ and human agency within an ever more digitalized world.

While much of the research around algorithms is committed to their technical understand-ing – ‘algorithmic power’ has just recently become a subject in critical media studies. In particular, the study of ‘algorithmic power’ from a user’s perspective has attracted research only from a handful of scholars.

But this is becoming ever more important; many command structures within algorithms aim at data from users themselves. Thus, the user’s ways of producing (meta)data is playing a key role within algorithmic decision-making. Understanding power therefore needs to be addressed from different viewpoints. Scrutinizing algorithmic power therefore also means looking at the other end and asking what users do to algorithms.

This thesis explores algorithms from the perspective of ordinary people and aims to unravel the user’s stance within an algorithmic society through their everyday life experiences. Asking how these experiences alter the users’ ways of producing (meta)data is worth in-vestigating as it provides a framework of agency within a world of algorithmic power.

In depth interviews with ten users have shown that the phenomenology of experience can make hidden algorithms within the everyday visible for users by asking not what algo-rithms are but by reflecting upon their meaning. These reflections have revealed how users consciously and subconsciously shape and reshape algorithmic outcomes via experiences and their imagination. Thereby, this research supports an opposing position to the popular perception that users are not aware of algorithms and therefore lack agency. (Less)
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author
Witzenberger, Kevin LU
supervisor
organization
course
MKVM13 20171
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
experience, Algorithm, algorithmic power, critical algorithm studies, public relevance algorithm, imagination, phenomenology of experience
language
English
id
8906861
date added to LUP
2017-11-01 11:24:09
date last changed
2017-11-01 11:24:09
@misc{8906861,
  abstract     = {The phenomenon, in which algorithms preselect information, can be observed in most as-pects of our everyday life. More and more decisions are left to computational processes without human intrusion. This development raises concerns about ‘algorithmic power’ and human agency within an ever more digitalized world.

While much of the research around algorithms is committed to their technical understand-ing – ‘algorithmic power’ has just recently become a subject in critical media studies. In particular, the study of ‘algorithmic power’ from a user’s perspective has attracted research only from a handful of scholars.

But this is becoming ever more important; many command structures within algorithms aim at data from users themselves. Thus, the user’s ways of producing (meta)data is playing a key role within algorithmic decision-making. Understanding power therefore needs to be addressed from different viewpoints. Scrutinizing algorithmic power therefore also means looking at the other end and asking what users do to algorithms.

This thesis explores algorithms from the perspective of ordinary people and aims to unravel the user’s stance within an algorithmic society through their everyday life experiences. Asking how these experiences alter the users’ ways of producing (meta)data is worth in-vestigating as it provides a framework of agency within a world of algorithmic power.

In depth interviews with ten users have shown that the phenomenology of experience can make hidden algorithms within the everyday visible for users by asking not what algo-rithms are but by reflecting upon their meaning. These reflections have revealed how users consciously and subconsciously shape and reshape algorithmic outcomes via experiences and their imagination. Thereby, this research supports an opposing position to the popular perception that users are not aware of algorithms and therefore lack agency.},
  author       = {Witzenberger, Kevin},
  keyword      = {experience,Algorithm,algorithmic power,critical algorithm studies,public relevance algorithm,imagination,phenomenology of experience},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {What Users Do to Algorithms : How everyday experiences and imagination shape algorithmic outcomes},
  year         = {2017},
}