If we follow Ted Striphas, culture is “sorting, classifying and hierarchizing people, places, objects and ideas.” But the rise of social media has made a fundamental impact on the inner mechanisms of our culture.
- The sorting of algorithmic culture is now radically different, because every person now gets his own mix of content. On the surface the user can manually choose by following accounts or being part of online communities. Under the surface algorithms decide what the user is exposed to.
- Algorithmic culture is classifying through tags. There are tags visible for users in the form of hashtags or tagging a location. On the other hand there are invisible tags. Either the creators are putting a tag on the content manually or AI categorises the content automatically.
- In terms of hierarchizing, the cultural landscape has totally changed as well. YouTube and Spotify are not only platforms anymore, but central institutions ranking content. YouTube Trends and Spotify charts have replaced Oscars and Grammys. Under the surface metrics are deciding what appears there.
The people, places, objects and ideas are transferred to content in the infinite plane on which our culture operates today which is called the Big Flat Now. This infinite plane is the user interface of different search engines and social media platforms. Flatness argues everything is the same everywhere. Nowness argues that it is the same time everywhere. Your best friends TikTok, a documentary about Yosemite Nationalpark, pictures of your dream car and some inspiration for work are tabs on the same browser. Differentiation there is getting more difficult. Why?
- Quantity – Because anything anywhere at any time is instantly available, competition for the most important currency (attention) is harder than ever.
- Quality – According to metrics, the quality of content is getting better and better. Social media platforms provide advanced content analytics for creators. When everybody knows what works on the platform, content is getting homogenised towards algorithmic preferences.
To all content creators out there: be aware of how the search for good numbers based on algorithms could kill your authenticity and creativity which in the long run kill the good numbers.