Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Algorithmic authority and garbage

More Clay Shirky:
But the core of the idea is this: algorithmic authority handles the “Garbage In, Garbage Out” problem by accepting the garbage as an input, rather than trying to clean the data first; it provides the output to the end user without any human supervisor checking it at the penultimate step; and these processes are eroding the previous institutional monopoly on the kind of authority we are used to in a number of public spheres, including the sphere of news.
Seems like this is tantamount to arguing that to solve the garbage-information problem we must produce more garbage.

Authority is deinstitutionalized and linked to the wisdom of crowds. That this seems democratic enough helps facilitate the transition. But the authority resides with the algorithm, the designer of the filter and the agenda for which it is designed. Ideology can be implemented at this level, in a much more straightforward and explicit way than it could when it was forced to work hegemonically across an array of institutions entrusted with producing knowledge. Now we all produce knowledge and "share" it; and the filter makes sure we only see amid that ocean the ideologically salient pieces.

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