I just want to be clear that I’m not saying that the details of the algorithms are irrelevant. In a way they can matter very much, and you know, in a certain circumstance, in a certain situated use, it might matter significantly what the algorithm does but we can’t say that a priori. So we need to both open up the algorithms, we need to understand them as much as possible, but we must not be seduced to believe that if we understand them therefore we know what they do.
I think this question “what do algorithms do,” which points to the question of agency, I think is an inappropriate way to ask the question. I think we should rather ask the question, what do algorithms become in situated practices?
With the rise of the Web, writing has met its photography. And by that I mean writing has encountered a situation similar to what happened uh, to painting with the invention of photography. A technology so much better at replicating reality that in order to survive, painting had to ors— or, uh, alter its course radically.
Appropriation is something we’re really uncomfortable with. We talk about it mostly in negative terms, when we even talk about it at all. But it’s also weirdly a pretty fundamental part of how we work.