The Rationality of Algorithms: Facebook Algorithm, Google Algorithms or No Algorithm at All?

If you could choose any of the following three options, which one would you pick?

  1. Facebook Algorithm
  2. Google Algorithms
  3. No Algorithm whatsoever

Granted: You probably have more choices than that – I’m just trying to keep it simple (stupid 😉 ).

Let’s review the steps involved.

First, you publish something.

Second, one of the algorithmic options above is applied in order to choose whether someone gets to see your post or not.

Finally, people either see or don’t see your content.

Which one would you choose?

If you’re anything like me, you would probably choose #3 („No Algorithm“). What this means is that there would be no filter between writers and readers… – or rather: No external filters. No middleman. No chaperones, no censors, no manipulation, no mind-control.

I am quite capable of thinking for myself, thank you very much. I can process large amounts of data quite well. I have (and apply) my own machines and algorithms (i.e., applications aka software, etc.) to help me choose what to read (or ignore). I don’t always use the same algorithm, because I don’t always want the same thing. What I want is mostly independent of where my current location is or what I happened to buy yesterday. My friends have different brains than I do, so they are free to choose different content at different times than I want here and now.

As a writer, I definitely don’t want some big media company to censor what I write.

In the rational media model, content producers and content consumers select (or „self-select“) each other via rational terms used to agree on the topics of interaction, the scope of communication, the boundaries of what is deemed relevant (versus irrelevant). Such terms might be short phrases (such as „summer vacation“ or „things to do“), or single keywords (for example „flights“ or „activities“). Some strings might be on the verge of natural language terms (e.g. „carwash“ or „facebook“). The point at which a term is deemed no longer rational is when it is closely linked to the term being „protected“ by so-called intellectual property law (such as trademark law). At that point, the term is no longer informative as an element of language – it then merely becomes an identifier (i.e., a proper name for a specific entity or phenomenon).

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