HASTAC 2016 has ended
Back To Schedule
Thursday, May 12 • 11:15am - 11:30am
Delving into Google DeepMind: Using Rhetorical Analysis as an Approach to Algorithmic Literacy

Sign up or log in to save this to your schedule, view media, leave feedback and see who's attending!

Ted Striphas is researching “algorithmic culture,” by which he means “the use of computers and complex mathematical routines to sort, classify, and create hierarchies for our many forms of human expression and association” (Striphas, 2011). He uses the term “algorithmic literacies” to describe a critical approach to, and recognition of, the activities and consequences of algorithmic activity. Cathy Davidson calls for a 4th “R” of literacy — beyond reading, writing, and arithmetic — to be algorithms. Because algorithms are “as basic to the way the 21st century digital age works as reading, writing, and arithmetic were to the late 18th century Industrial era” (Davidson, 2011), she maintains that literacy in algorithms should become a focus of school literacy efforts.

As the call for algorithmic literacy spreads, the question for digital scholars in the humanities and social sciences is clear: What does it mean to be literate in algorithms? Beyond a study of obvious effects of algorithms (like online ads that “follow” our browsing and purchasing habits) and less visible effects (like customized online search results based on network IP address and geolocation), can we develop a critical approach to the very language of algorithms, the code that enacts algorithmic activity? This paper proposes algorithmic literacy as a potential configuration of technological and humanistic domains by introducing a rhetorical approach to an artificial intelligence algorithm developed by Google DeepMind. The paper seeks to apply traditional and nontraditional rhetorical analysis strategies to the algorithm as textual representation toward developing methods for understanding the persuasive nature of algorithms as composed texts.

Davidson, C. (2011, October 31). What are the 4 R’s essential to 21st century learning? [Blog post]. HASTAC. Retrieved November 16, 2015, from https://www.hastac.org/blogs/

Striphas, T. (2011, October 17). Algorithmic literacies [Blog post]. The late age of print: Beyond the book. Retrieved November 15, 2015, from http://www.thelateageofprint.org/2011/10/17/algorithmic-literacies


Thursday May 12, 2016 11:15am - 11:30am MST
COOR L1-18 975 S Myrtle Ave Arizona State University Tempe, AZ 85281
  Culture and Ethics, Long Paper
  • Session Location COOR L1-18