On Organizing Algorithms

Neyland, D.. 2015. On Organizing Algorithms. Theory, Culture & Society, 32(1), pp. 119-132. ISSN 0263-2764 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This short paper acts as a comment on Totaro and Ninno's ‘The Concept of Algorithm as an Interpretative Key of Modern Rationality’ and also introduces some new avenues for exploring the organization of algorithms. In recent discussion of algorithms, concerns have been expressed regarding the apparent power, agential capacity and control that algorithms command of our lives (Beer, 2009; Lash, 2007; Slavin, 2011; Spring, 2011; Stalder and Mayer, 2009). The logic of order, if there is one within these discussions, appears somewhat distinct from the metaphor of recursion suggested by Totaro and Ninno. Using this distinction as a starting point, the paper explores alternative metaphors from which to begin an engagement with political questions of algorithmic ordering. The paper argues for engaging with associative metaphors of: algorithmic account, fluidity, absent-presence and sociality. The paper explores these associative metaphors through an important set of emerging questions regarding organizing algorithms: who and what is included or excluded, on what terms and to what ends?

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This research was funded by EU FP7 grant 261653.


algorithms, metaphors, order, recursive, surveillance

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January 2015Published

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Date Deposited:

11 Feb 2015 10:29

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:10

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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