Weapons of Math Destruction: how big data and algorithms affect our lives by Guardian Science Weekly


“Algorithms are trying to service us based on a computer profile of what we do online, that only has to do with what we do online. It has nothing to do with what we do offline”

This quote has been ringing in my ears since listening to this podcast.

I define an algorithm as a computed process that generates outputs based on trends, statistics and behaviours. Trends and statistics can often be clean cut. However I wonder how accurate digital representations of human behaviour can ever really be?

The consequences of getting it wrong will only continue to grow as algorithms are increasingly embedded into our daily lives.
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Liked on YouTube: Red Dwarf Redux – S10E04 – Fathers and Suns


Viewing points – between 8 mins 40 seconds and 10 minutes

This video popped into my head when I was reading the contents of my previous blog post ‘How algorithms rule the world’.

I drew comparison between the idea of allocating police resources based on the output of algorithms and the actions of the on-board computer in the above video.

Both sources suggest that algorithms can be used to predict future behaviors based on past behaviors, probability and recent trends.

The video also links the cyyberpunk themes (covered in Block 1) to algorithmic theme that we are currently studying.

By: cpsaros

Hi Stuart,

Thanks for such positive feedback!

I think it’s an interesting point you make about the LMS. Something I noticed very early on in my second MOOC was how differently the tool was used and I certainly think that it played a big role in inhibiting interaction.

I was really good to be able to discuss this MOOC with you behind the scenes. The interaction we had , help me identify the key differences in regards to community development and community participation.

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By: Renee Furner

Hi Stuart – and thanks for your comment and generous review!

I’ve added a more wordy, written format of my micro-ethnography, because, as you allude to, there are quite possibly more factors that were influential in the low uptake of communication. The short version:
-it’s a new ‘group’ – it’s probably unrealistic to expect norm formation and relational exchanges, as per Kozinets’ community progression model (2010);
-the MOOC only lasts for 6 weeks at any rate, so it is unlikely that participants anticipate future interaction, and therefore they may remain task oriented (Walther, 1997, cited in Kozinets, 2010, p. 24)
-the course is, like many MOOCs, information oriented, and prescriptive about what needs to be learned. Perhaps real participation needs to be student driven: students deciding what and how they learn (and with whom).

Heading to your blog just now.. Thanks again!

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