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    Jakob Svensson: Behind the algorithm

    Higher seminar with Jakob Svensson from Malmö University, arranged by Media and Communication Studies at the School of Culture and Education, Södertörn University

    Algorithms are on the agenda today. Scholars argue that algorithms start to replace many things, from production to consumption of media, from editors to journalists, and might even influence election results. Still algorithms are far from perfect. There is a debate whether Amazon is homophobic and whether Google is racist. Studies have also found gender biases as a consequence of image search algorithms and that black people are not recognized as humans in face-recognition algorithms. 

    This research contributes to this with a much-needed sociological approach to research on algorithms by focusing on the humans behind them. Being engineered by humans, they embody rules, ideals, imaginations/ perceptions and cultures. They are encoded with human intentions that may or may not be fulfilled. Still, algorithm programmers and software engineers have largely been ignored in empirical studies. The question the project seeks to answer is: What logic, or combination of logics, informs the practices of designing and programming algorithms? 

    This question will be answered through a study software engineers and their intentions, imaginations/ perceptions, rules, ideals, different cultures and how this feeds into their programming and designing of algorithms. The question will be addressed in two different studies; an interview study targeting algorithm programmers and an ethnographic study of a news-ranking algorithm in a leading national newspaper.

    I will present the first result of this two-year research project. At the time of the presentation, a major part of the interview study have been finalized and the ethnographic study have begun.

    Tid och plats

    När: tisdag 16 oktober kl. 13:00-14:30

    Vad: högre seminarium

    Var: PC249, Primus building, Södertörn University, Campus Flemingsberg

    Arrangeras av: Media and Communication Studies

    Evenemangsspråk: engelska