Week 8 – Round Up

Algorithms are awesome. From procedural generated computer games, to making recommendations on what music I might like, I’m very much a fan of what they do having been exposed to them from a young age. I checked out Reddit which is an interesting algortihm to consider here because the algorithm works in tandem with human input to identify content which is “relevant”. In theory Reddit should provide the level of agency that Gillespie doesn’t think we can achieve. In reality, it usually just ends up with a very american view of the world.

I also wondered why, given the importance of search engines, Google can escape the same levels of ire that media moguls receive. Not that I suggest the Murdoch empire is unfairly criticised. On reflection, perhaps Google has watched and learned the issues faced by print and broadcast media.

I spend a fair bit of my time at work dealing with issues around Turnitin, so I was surprised to see it mentioned so prominently as an algorithm used extensively in Higher Education in one of the core readings. This now vies for my attention on my essay portion of this course’s assessment.

I’ve created my artefact for this week. I tried very hard to “break” the algorithm on Steam, but I think without actually buying and playing a game that I would never normally countenance, there is not much chance of that happening. I found the process of re-running the “queue” to be quite enjoyable. There’s a message of over-consumption in there too which I haven’t addressed in my video.

I also found time to begin the process of tidying up my blog, I’m sticking with this theme now, as it seems to do everything asked of it by IFTTT. I also looked at my earliest posts and started to add the meta information required.

From twitter – Turnitin as a plagiarism “detection” system?

Knox (2015) writes:

“It is notable that algorithms, assumed to provide objectivity and exactitude, are frequently used in areas of high risk and security, and this is precisely where the most prominent example can be found in education: the use of the Turnitin plagiarism detection service at the point of assessment. ”

This is at odds with my own experience of using Turnitin. It is not a “plagiarism detection service”. It is at best able to suggest where plagiarism may have occurred, through its similarity indexing algorithm, but the ultimate call as to whether or not plagiarism has occurred is (still) made by humans. The similarity score of Turnitin is used as part of the evidence gathered in suspected academic misconduct cases. I have never heard of a student being penalised automatically. Perhaps it happens elsewhere.

Moreover, there should be push to flip the  focus of Turnitin’s reporting to  enable students to improve their scholarship.

ref: Knox, J. 2015. Algorithmic Cultures. Excerpt from Critical Education and Digital Cultures. In Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory. M. A. Peters (ed.). DOI 10.1007/978-981-287-532-7_124-1


From Twitter

A very interesting exchange with James via Twitter off the back of my comment regarding Turnitin as a “plagiarism detection tool”. I argue that it’s not such a thing, but there are those who take the opposing view point. I could see this discussion taking shape in to a larger piece of work.