Lifestream, Tweets

In some ways it feels uncomfortable to consciously give permission to IFTTT to track my movements across different platforms. Yet, we do this anyway just by going online and logging-in, donating data to Google, FB, Twitter and so on.

My tweet though is about the indirectness of creating an IFTTT algorithm which tracks my interaction with third party service providers (so far Twitter, Pinterest, Diigo, Youtube, Evernote, and – new this week – Flickr and Pocket) in order to post to WordPress, when I could ‘ask’ WordPress to post for me directly, through the plug-in/Chrome extension ‘PressThis’. Using IFTTT does, however, have the advantage of raising awareness of ‘being tracked’, and of giving agency to the algorithms: the posts appear when the IFTTT Applet runs, there can be a delay, the code doesn’t always ‘pick-up’ what I intended (Pinterest Applet, for example).

Lifestream, Liked on YouTube: algorithmic search for love by Julian Palacz

via YouTube

Through this post I make a novel start to the algorithmic cultures block, with Julian Palacz’s interactive installation from 2010.

Algorithmic search for love is a found footage film generator. It works like a search engine, where spoken language is searched using text input. Every word or sentence in a movie can be a possible search result.”

The installation broadcasts all video sequences found for each text match ‘end-to-end, producing a new audiovisual story. It’s fascinating to see the very varied contexts in which single phrases can be seen to find meaning.

Here’s Juian Palacz talking about how the algorithm works with film scripts, and utilises translation tools. Palacz comments that it is interesting to see what people enter, through a private process, and then see the search terms quite publicly realised through the broadcast. For me, this gives rise to questions about agency, and connects with Knox’s article,  Active Algorithms: Sociomaterial Spaces in the E-learning and Digital Cultures MOOC (2104). In the same way that Knox suggests the EDCMOOC space was co-created by participants and the underlying algorithms of the sites that hosted resources, the broadcast produced in Palacz’s installation is co-produced by the algorithm, the human choice of search terms and by what is included in and excluded from the film database. No doubt the performative nature of the search return also influences the choice of search queries. I would be interested to see the results of an algorithm which similarly worked with spoken language and film, but also incorporated personal data such as genre preferences/viewing history/etc. of the user.