Week 10 Summary

In the final teaching week of Education and Digital Cultures, my Lifestream blog seems to have divided into several tributaries, winding towards the final assignment. The first tributary meandered through some of the work of peers, with visits to Daniel’s blog, which houses an impressive attempt to coordinate peer notetaking; Stuart’s blog, where I found an excellent, coordinated algorithmic analysis with Chenée; Matthew’s blog, to talk about algorithmic impacts on notions of singular authorship (pending moderation); and Dirk’s blog, in search of answers about how data was created and missing meaningfulness. This tributary then diverted to relatively social engagement in Twitter, with discussion of breaking black boxes, which I did symbolically by cracking open my computer shell for a repair, and spam.

The second tributary was concerned with the role of ‘data’ and algorithms in research process and products. My exploration began with discussion of a blog post from Knox (2014) regarding  inverting notions of abstraction. A reading of Vis (2013) continued these explorations, with a focus on how data are selected, how visibility is instrumentalised, and the unreliability which is induced by monetisation. Next, through Markam (2013), I questioned the neutrality of ‘data’ as a research frame, and was wooed by her calls to embrace complexity, and acknowledge research as a ‘messy,  continual, dialogic, messy, entangled, and inventive’ process. This tributary culminated in a damming of sorts (or, damning), with my analysis of our Tweetorial’s algorithmic interpretation by Tweet Archivist.

In the final tributary, I investigated the entanglement of human and technical agency, driven by wider concerns about the governance of society and how ‘citizens’ can maintain a voice in that governance when so much influence is exerted through commercial and technical agency. Divisions in (and the co-evolution of) agency were explored through discussion of Matias’ (2017) research into algorithmic nudges with /r/worldnews (and in these notes on a Tweet), and developed based on a blog post in which Rahwan (2016) writes of “embedding judgement of society, as a whole, in the algorithmic governance of outcomes.” A peer (Cathy) helped me to connect this with predictive analysis ‘nudges’ in education, where I similarly see a need for collective agency to be used to integrate human values and ensure accountability. This line of thinking also links to ethical concerns about new technologies raised in our cybercultures block.