Algorithmic Resistance

Media practices and the Politics of Repair

Julia Velkova, Anne Kaun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

The article constitutes a critical intervention in the current, dramatic debate on the consequences of algorithms and automation for society. While most research has focused on negative outcomes, including ethical problems of machine bias and accountability, little has been said about the possibilities of users to resist algorithmic power. The article draws on Raymond Williams’ work on media as practice to advance a framework for studying algorithms with a focus on user agency. We illustrate this framework with the example of the media activist campaign World White Web by the Swedish artist and visual designer Johanna Burai. We suggest that user agency in relation to algorithms can emerge from alternative uses of platforms, in the aftermath of algorithmic logics, and give birth to complicit forms of resistance that work through ‘repair’ politics oriented towards correcting the work of algorithms. We conclude with a discussion of the ways in which the proposed framework helps us rethink debates on algorithmic power.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInformation, Communication and Society
Number of pages18
ISSN1369-118X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 5141 Sociology
  • 518 Media and communications
  • 113 Computer and information sciences
  • User agency
  • algorithms
  • algorithmic cultures
  • media practices
  • algorithmic resistance
  • racism
  • POWER

Cite this

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Algorithmic Resistance : Media practices and the Politics of Repair. / Velkova, Julia; Kaun, Anne.

In: Information, Communication and Society, 26.08.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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AB - The article constitutes a critical intervention in the current, dramatic debate on the consequences of algorithms and automation for society. While most research has focused on negative outcomes, including ethical problems of machine bias and accountability, little has been said about the possibilities of users to resist algorithmic power. The article draws on Raymond Williams’ work on media as practice to advance a framework for studying algorithms with a focus on user agency. We illustrate this framework with the example of the media activist campaign World White Web by the Swedish artist and visual designer Johanna Burai. We suggest that user agency in relation to algorithms can emerge from alternative uses of platforms, in the aftermath of algorithmic logics, and give birth to complicit forms of resistance that work through ‘repair’ politics oriented towards correcting the work of algorithms. We conclude with a discussion of the ways in which the proposed framework helps us rethink debates on algorithmic power.

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