The Inescapable Algorithm? Part II
After my last blogpost I have also spoken about possible consequences of the new algorithm with other Instagrammers. Most said they hadn’t noticed yet that certain entries were no longer displayed to them. I must admit, for me it is also just one case that I can prove. But this experience also describes exactly the fundamental experience with such social networking sites: We notice changes only coincidentally or not at all. The algorithm, as Moritz summed it up very nicely, is a black box whose functionality we can only explore in indirect ways. Perhaps that’s exactly what is so interesting for many of us: We want to know how the algorithm works. We will never find it out to the last detail; we’ll always be slower than the programmers.
The observation that we are faced with a black box is also true for our role as Instagram users. David’s impression was that we are at the mercy of these changes. We cannot opt against the new sorting principles. And what follows from all this? Are we only left with the option of turning our backs to Instagram? David added another observation: Instagram presents itself as very secretive overall. Those who have a question or a problem (for example when registering) may find some support pages but they won’t find a direct contact person.
Those I have spoken to appeared to be either puzzled or frustrated as that reliable constant, the software, the strictly chronological sorting of all contributions by the subscribed users, is destined to disappear. Our control over what can be seen is being taken away from us. Perhaps many users would be more inclined to accept this if we did not at the same time get asked to populate Instagram again and again with content, i.e. with photos and with videos. Instagram asks us to join in and to produce content, but at the same time changes the designated framework according to their own vision only.
Currently there are only individual cases where photos did not appear. Who observed anything similar? What are your own thoughts? Do write to me about your experiences.