Week 5 Reading and Discussion Pointers

This week, we’ve been talking about the effects of computer algorithms, both large and small. Our readings, the book reviews by Eugene Morozov and Eli Pariser look at the effects of algorithms on our personal experiences and how those effects expand outward.

1. Evgeny Morozov reviews two books about Google, Steven Levy’s In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works and Shapes our Lives and Siva Vaidhyanathan’s The Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry). Where would you situate yourself on the scale of cyber-optimism and cyber-pessimism? How does the Morozov piece help you to support your position?

2. Eli Pariser writes about “local maximums.” What does he mean by this phrase? What are the effects of the local maximum? Why are they a good thing in some instances and a negative thing in others? What might the effect be on media?