Practical knowledge of algorithms: The case of BreadTube

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Abstract

The growing ubiquity of algorithms in everyday life has prompted cross-disciplinary interest in what people know about algorithms. The purpose of this article is to build on this growing literature by highlighting a particular way of knowing algorithms evident in past work, but, as yet, not clearly explicated. Specifically, I conceptualize practical knowledge of algorithms to capture knowledge located at the intersection of practice and discourse. Rather than knowing that an algorithm is/does X, Y, or Z, practical knowledge entails knowing how to accomplish X, Y, or Z within algorithmically mediated spaces as guided by the discursive features of one’s social world. I conceptualize practical knowledge in conversation with past work on algorithmic knowledge and theories of knowing, and as empirically grounded in a case study of a leftist online community known as “BreadTube.”.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNew Media and Society
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science

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