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HCII Seminar Series - Nick Seaver

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Nick Seaver

Nick Seaver
Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, and Director of Program in Science, Technology, and Society at Tufts University


Newell-Simon Hall 1305

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"Computing Taste: Care and Control in Algorithmic Music Recommendation"

The people who make music recommender systems have lofty goals: they want to broaden listeners' horizons and help obscure musicians find audiences, taking advantage of the enormous catalogs of music streaming services. But for their critics, recommender systems seem to embody all the potential harms of algorithms: they flatten culture into numbers, they normalize ever-broadening data collection, and they profile their users for commercial ends. This talk presents the results of several years of ethnographic fieldwork with makers of music recommendation in the US, describing how they navigate the tensions between care and control in the construction of algorithmic systems.

Speaker's Bio

Nick Seaver is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology and director of the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at Tufts University in Medford, MA. His ethnographic research on the developers of algorithmic music recommendation has appeared in Cultural Anthropology, Cultural Studies, and Big Data & Society. He is co-editor of Towards an Anthropology of Data (2021) and author of Computing Taste: Algorithms and the Makers of Music Recommendation (2022). 

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