Algocount. Public Perception of Algorithms in Society. Accounting for the Algorithmic Public Opinion
"Algocount — Public Perception of Algorithms in Society. Accounting for the Algorithmic Public Opinion" is a two-year project sponsored by Fondazione Cariplo. Algocount started in April 2020 and involved researchers from the Department of Social and Political Sciences of the University of Milano (Unimi) and DensityDesign. Experts and researchers in governance, policymaking, social science, and media studies are afferent to Unimi, while researchers in Information Design and Data Visualization are members of the DensityDesign Research Lab.
The project seeks to expand our current understanding of, and raise awareness about, the role of algorithms in society, with a specific focus on the formation of public opinion in the Italian context. The algorithmic public opinion is the algorithmically driven process that leads some topics or issues to become a salient matter of public opinion and that embodies the entry point from which individuals access information and develop their ideas. Hence, social networks are accelerators of public opinion formation processes that filter, prioritize and recommend information according to users' profiles.
The activities carried out by DensityDesign are drawn on the experience of previous work rooted in the Digital Methods tradition. The DensityDesign team has been involved in three main activities:
- Organization of a data sprint framed within the infodemic theme and design of visualization aimed at exploring the public perception of algorithms in society through the lens of users' activity on social networks (Read more)
- The design of PlacPlac, a dissemination platform to store, stage, and access the results of data sprints after research activities and disseminate to a broader public scientific research outcome (Read more)
- The design of artefacts to be included within the Digital Culture Collection of Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia di Milano Leonardo da Vinci and presented during the "EveryDay Algorithms" event in July 2022.
Photographs: Francesco Clerici/Museo Nazionale Scienza e Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci.