In February Data & Society held the Who Controls the Public Sphere in an Era of Algorithms? workshop to drill into the assumptions, values, and tensions at the core of growing concerns about the control and shaping of the public sphere in an era of algorithms.
The workshop was organized as part of Data & Society’s developing Algorithms and Publics project and was informed by – and produced – a set of documents for understanding what’s at stake (thanks to workshop participants for contributing to and strengthening this work, and to Open Society Foundations and the MacArthur Foundation for supporting it):
- Mediation, Automation, Power, a contemporary issues primer
- Assumptions and Questions, a background primer
- Case Studies, a complement to the contemporary issues primer
- Executive Summary for Workshop
- Workshop Summary, extended notes from the workshop
We’ve also begun publishing additional pieces inspired by the workshop and its themes in Data & Society’s Points collection:
- Ethan Zuckerman, Ben Franklin, the Post Office and the Digital Public Sphere
- Fenwick McKelvey, No More Magic Algorithms: Cultural Policy in an Era of Discoverability
- danah boyd, Facebook Must Be Accountable to the Public
We hope people will use these documents to help unpack the larger issues implicated in, for instance, recent stories about Facebook’s Trending box. As always, we welcome your thoughts: feedback at data society dot net.
May 17 addendum:
Research analyst Robyn Caplan pulled together some threads from this work in an op-ed on Facebook and journalism in NYT’s Room for Debate.
June 14 addendum:
In a new Points piece, Robyn Caplan also unpacked the recent Google autocomplete manipulation kerfuffle.
Robyn Caplan took to NYT’s Room for Debate with Facebook Must Acknowledge and Change Its Financial Incentives, and we continue to publish pieces related to this project in Points.