As I say in my TED Talk about Vilem Flusser, the most pressing cultural question is: “why are things so weird?” Or as Anna Shechtman describes it:

“that feeling—floating somewhere between mania and motion sickness—that everything has changed.”

It seems like everyone really fucking wants the answer to be “The Algorithm.”

The New Yorker internet and culture columnist Kyle Chayka gives them that answer in his new book Filterworld: How Algorithms Flattened Culture.

I’ve spent years articulating why this a bad answer. “The Algorithm” is the answer that Susan Wojcicki and Mark Zuckerberg desperately want us to give. It feels like critique but it in fact reifies the premises and business models of the tech platforms: it implies that the platforms are in some computer-genius fashion holding the reins of culture and brainwashing their users. Advertisers, famously, would love to hold the reins of culture and brainwash potential customers.

And Senator, Facebook sells ads.

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