Stagger onward rejoicing

Tag: algorithm (page 1 of 1)

Ted Gioia:

Boredom is built into the [Spotify] platform, because they lose money if you get too excited about music — you’re like the person at the all-you-can-eat buffet who goes back for a third helping. They make the most money from indifferent, lukewarm fans, and they created their interface with them in mind. In other words, Spotify’s highest aspiration is to be the Applebee’s of music.

Paris Marx:

The Amazon store experience, while presented as frictionless, contains a lot of friction—so much so that many people are excluded from entry. On top of the complex surveillance system, every customer needs to have a smartphone, have downloaded the Amazon app, logged in to an Amazon account, and connected a means of payment. When an Amazon Fresh store opened in West London in March 2021, a journalist observed an old man trying to go in to pick up some groceries, but he gave up when he was told all the steps he would have to take just to enter. “Oh f*** that, no, no, no — can’t be bothered,” he said, then kept walking to reach a normal grocery store. But in the future he may run into similar issues at even more stores, as countries like Sweden pioneer a cashless economy and the Amazon model inevitably spreads.

The extension of inequities, and even the creation of new ones, is a key part of the frictionless society that gets hidden by the digital services that claim to increase convenience and reduce barriers to consumption. Researcher Chris Gilliard coined the term “digital redlining” to describe the series of technologies, regulatory decisions, and investments that allow them to scale as actions that “enforce class boundaries and discriminate against specific groups.” In the same way that biases in artificial intelligence systems were long ignored, if not purposefully hidden, to protect companies’ business interests, these frictionless tools also claim they will eliminate inequities, even as Gilliard argued that “the feedback loops of algorithmic systems will work to reinforce these often flawed and discriminatory assumptions. The presupposed problem of difference will become even more entrenched, the chasms between people will widen.”


The Iconfactory has just released an app called Triode, and I’m loving it. In essence, Triode provides a simple, clean, and lovely interface for listening to internet radio stations, and the great pleasure of using the app is that nothing about it is algorithmic. It’s the anti-Spotify. Instead of “We have analyzed your listening history and are confident that you’ll like this” it’s “We know nothing about your listening history and have no idea whether you’ll like this or not, but we’re playing it because we think it’s cool.” Unpredictable human preference! Fallible human judgment! What a concept.