Season 2, Episode 11
Algorithms run our lives these days, from Netflix binges to predictive policing. And that includes algorithmic recommenders––like Spotify’s Discover Weekly and Pandora––that shape how we consume music. How does algorithmic music recommendation work and, perhaps more importantly, who makes it work? After all, algorithms are made and tweaked by people, who work at tech companies and have their own ideas and values. An interview with anthropologist Nick Seaver, who has conducted years of ethnographic fieldwork to understand who creates algorithmic recommenders, and why they do what they do.
Nick Seaver is assistant professor of anthropology at Tufts University.
- The 2021 article “Seeing like an infrastructure: avidity and difference in algorithmic recommendation,” in Cultural Studies
- The 2021 article “Everything lies in a space:cultural data and spatial reality,” in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
- The 2019 chapter “Knowing Algorithms” in Digital STS: A Field Guide
- The 2018 article “Captivating algorithms: Recommender systems as traps,” in the Journal of Material Culture
- The essay “What Should an Anthropology of Algorithms Do?” in Cultural Anthropology
- The 2017 article Algorithms as culture: Some tactics for the ethnography of algorithmic systems,” in Big Data & Society
Sound Expertise is hosted by Will Robin (@seatedovation), and produced by D. Edward Davis (@warmsilence). Please subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and/or Spotify. Questions or comments? Email williamlrobin@ gmail
A written transcript of this episode is available here; many thanks to Andrew Dell’Antonio for volunteering to prepare transcripts for the show!