References and Reading List

(still unsorted; papers and books we have been reading)


  • Esposito, Elena (2017), Artificial Communication? The Production of Contigency by Algorithms. Zeitschrit für Soziologie Vol. 46 No. 4, pp. 249–265. DOI: 10.1515/zfsoz-2017-1014

    [annot hhr 180208]: interesting proposal to make algorithms a sociological subject by dropping the misleading concept of 'intelligence' in favour of 'communication' as defined by Luhmann and characterised by "double contingency" (the reciprocal experience of contingency of both communicative partners). In many ways, the proposal breaks down over the difficulty of asserting boundaries; for example, there is an insistence on the difference between human-human and human-algorithm communication (the title has a questionmark, and towards the conclusions we do not hear any longer about algorithmic communication but merely about interaction), a footnote distancing this from Hayles' "hybridisation". The meat of the article is the section on "virtual contigency" which gets somehow lost in the problem of relating algorithmic theory and practical observations, falling back to the optical metaphor of "reflections", necessarily simplifying the human-machine process as opposed to a richer description for example with Barad's "diffractions". In the end, nothing is said about the prerogative of the human authors and intenders, and programs become simply indirections from somebody that constructs an algorithm for communication (e.g. a social network) and the users. Nevertheless, the article opens many interesting questions worth further discussion.

Note that this is a work-in-progress, a place where we can keep bookmarks; this is the reason this page appears in the 'blog' exposition; further references can be found in our own publications.