Jaron Harambam

Publications

Democratizing algorithmic news recommenders: how to materialize voice in a technologically saturated media ecosystem

Harambam, J.

Helberger, N.

van Hoboken, J.

The deployment of various forms of AI, most notably of machine learning algorithms, radically transforms many domains of social life. In this paper we focus on the news industry, where different algorithms are used to customize news offerings to increasingly specific audience preferences. While this personalization of news enables media organizations to be more receptive to their audience, it can be questioned whether current deployments of algorithmic news recommenders (ANR) live up to their emancipatory promise. Like in various other domains, people have little knowledge of what personal data is used and how such algorithmic curation comes about, let alone that they have any concrete ways to influence these data-driven processes. Instead of going down the intricate avenue of trying to make ANR more transparent, we explore in this article ways to give people more influence over the information news recommendation algorithms provide by thinking about and enabling possibilities to express voice. After differentiating four ideal typical modalities of expressing voice (alternation, awareness, adjustment and obfuscation) which are illustrated with currently existing empirical examples, we present and argue for algorithmic recommender personae as a way for people to take more control over the algorithms that curate people's news provision.

23-11-2018

De/politisering van de Waarheid: Complottheorieën, alternatieve feiten en nepnieuws in het tijdperk van de postwaarheid

Harambam, J.

The Truth dominates many public discussions today. Conventional truths from established epistemic authorities about all sorts of issues, from climate change to terrorist attacks, are increasingly challenged by ordinary citizens and presidents alike. Many have therefore proclaimed that we have entered a post-truth era: a world in which objective facts are no longer relevant. Media and politics speak in alarmist discourse about how fake news, conspiracy theories and alternative facts threaten democratic societies by destabilizing the Truth ‐ a clear sign of a moral panic. In this essay, I firstly explore what sociological changes have led to (so much commotion about) the alleged demise of the Truth. In contrast to the idea that we have moved beyond it, I argue that we are amidst public battles about the Truth: at stake is who gets to decide over that and why. I then discuss and criticize the dominant counter reaction (re-establishing the idea of one objective and irrefutable truth), which I see as an unsuccessful de-politisation strategy. Basing myself on research and experiments with epistemic democracy in the field of science studies, I end with a more effective and democratic alternative of how to deal with knowledge in the complex information landscape of today.

23-11-2018

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