2 thoughts on “The Silence of Data

  1. lisayhan says:

    Hi Daniel,

    You’re asking a really interesting question here. What if silence could be a tactic of disobedience in the face of the culture of algorithms? My knee jerk reaction to this was to say no–there’s no way that works. And the reason, I think, has much to do with the same reason why people didn’t get outraged about the NSA leaks. It’s the same reason why every time Facebook changes their homepage, everyone gets pissed, threatens to quit Facebook, and then never do. and the frustrating sense in general of why there is such passivity in the face of a perceived loss of control over our cultural object.

    I strongly believe that the logics of algorithms is engrained so deeply in the everyday, in our very conception of what culture is, into our perception of social needs, into our jobs and the routinization of other universal experiences (i.e. airports, music listening, movie-watching, job hunting, etc) that we’re past the point where simply “quitting” the medium would be a mode of disobedience.

    Rather, I think the general trend of resistance has not to become silent, but to get louder. These days, noise is often touted as the best act of disobedience in the online world—I’m thinking specifically about DDOS attacks, or the overwhelming of servers with bots that mimic viewer traffic. I’m also thinking about the mobilization of these very algorithms for alternative ends, such as social media activism or even, as is the case with Digital Methods Initiative, the cooptation of algorithmic surveillance for academic research.


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