The Algorithmic Self: On Being Made by the Numbers
March 16, 2015 6:11 AM   Subscribe

"The first step toward protecting the self in an age of algorithmic manipulation is to recognize such manipulation as a problem." Frank Pasquale, writing for The Hedgehog Review, grapples with "The Algorithmic Self."
To negotiate contemporary algorithms of reputation and search—ranging from resumé optimization on LinkedIn to strategic Facebook status updates to OkCupid profile grooming—we are increasingly called on to adopt an algorithmic self, one well practiced in strategic self-promotion. This algorithmic selfhood may be critical to finding job opportunities (or even maintaining a reliable circle of friends and family) in an era of accelerating social change. But it can also become self-defeating. Consider, for instance, the self-promoter whose status updates on Facebook or LinkedIn gradually tip from informative to annoying. Or the search engine−optimizing website whose tactics become a bit too aggressive, thereby causing it to run afoul of Google’s web spam team and consequently sink into obscurity. The algorithms remain stubbornly opaque amid rapidly changing social norms. A cyber-vertigo results, as we are pressed to promote our algorithmic selves but puzzled over the best way to do so.
posted by MonkeyToes (5 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Consider, for instance, the self-promoter whose status updates on Facebook or LinkedIn gradually tip from informative to annoying.

I've blocked a number of perfectly nice people on Facebook who just don't shut up. It might be an effect of my not having 900 friends there, or an oddity of Facebook's algorithms for whose posts it chooses to show, but a single verbose person can take up an awful lot of space.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:36 AM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


So were Ben Franklin's Thirteen Virtues and the "bold and arduous Project of arriving at moral Perfection", where he records his daily performance in regards to each virtue on a sort of Likert scale and analyzes the accumulated data, an early outbreak of this vicious scourge of algorithmic selfhood?

Many of the statements in this are entirely valid but the variety of phenomena the author is covering don't seem particularly related to each other and he's trying to make many of them sound much newer than they actually are.

Hence I find it amusing that the Wikipedia entry for The Hedgehog Review says that the name of the journal is derived from a Classical phrase saying, "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing."
posted by XMLicious at 7:01 AM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


the hedgehog knows one big thing

Love hurts?
posted by Segundus at 7:08 AM on March 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


GOTTA GO FAST
posted by overeducated_alligator at 8:16 AM on March 16, 2015


Dip Flash: "Consider, for instance, the self-promoter whose status updates on Facebook or LinkedIn gradually tip from informative to annoying.

I've blocked a number of perfectly nice people on Facebook who just don't shut up. It might be an effect of my not having 900 friends there, or an oddity of Facebook's algorithms for whose posts it chooses to show, but a single verbose person can take up an awful lot of space.
"

That's how I feel about people who use Twitter as a personal blog space instead of... a blog.
posted by symbioid at 5:03 PM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


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