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This class has an incredible knack for discussing themes in digital media that simultaneously interest with my own interactions with the internet. Recently, I went for a motorcycle trip with my Dad (who is a motorcycle enthusiast) over spring break. We did a 500 mile trip around the state of California, driving through Big Sur, the central valley, and then up through the Santa Cruz mountains. During the trip, we took a few photos, and then when we got back, I posted them on Facebook.
But nobody liked them.
At first, I was shocked. I had posted them in the afternoon, and everybody was back at school, so it wasn’t like there wasn’t anybody online. I reasoned that I hadn’t posted anything to Facebook in a long time, and therefore posts from my profile didn’t reach others’ Newsfeeds. And so, nobody had seen or validated my amazing adventures.
In this week’s, “Want to Be on Top?”, Bucher discusses the “threat to invisibility” on Facebook. Bucher argues that Facebook imposes a “regime if visibility” based on Edgerank, an algorithm the structures the flow through people’s newsfeeds, and that this algorithm. Thus, Bucher argues that participating on Facebook “…is not constituted through the imposed threat of an all-seeing vision machine, but by the constant possibility of disappearing and becoming obsolete”.
In other words, Bucher argues that social media platforms such as Facebook which use algorithms like “Edgerank” moderate our participation not just by creating a regime that encourages users to share and be visible, but also through the fear of eventually becoming increasingly invisible to others online.
Bucher ends her article by calling for research that not only focuses on how editorial media practices are increasingly being run by algorithms,  but also how changes in cultural assumptions about the nature of social networking are being built into these very algorithmic architectures themselves.
I think Bucher’s call are fascinating. What other algorithms that deliver information are predicated on cultural assumptions that are arbitrary and not necessarily true? What about the algorithms that determine Google search? What about news? These are fascinating questions, and I look forward to discussing them in section.