Skip to Main Content

#ForYou: Algorithms & the Attention Economy

Penn State Berks Thun Library, First Year Seminar Workshop Series


In this workshop we will:

  • Learn about algorithms & examine how they shape our online experiences
  • Reflect on how our personal data & online behaviors impact how we receive content
  • Explore ways we can build algorithmic awareness & take back control of our attention

Algorithms & the news

In your small group, discuss the following questions:

  • Where do you usually seek out information / get your news from?
  • How do you evaluate the information / news you encounter?
  • Explain like I'm 5: How do algorithms work? What do you already know? Feel free to include what you don't know!
  • Where do you encounter algorithms in real life? Can you list an example?

Personalization & Recommendation Engines

Select one platform listed below and explore / review the details of how they personalize your experience. You may also check out SplitScreen which is an interactive comparison of personalized social feeds based on various demographics.

Please use the Exploring Personalization Algorithms worksheet to respond to questions!

Platform Personalization Details (select & review 1)

Example of social feed personalized by demographics

Attention Engineering & Persuasive Design

As a group, discuss the following reflection questions and then explore the links below (divide and conquer or work together!):

  • Give an example of a time when one of these techniques distracted you. Did it happen during this workshop? Judgement free zone ;)
  • How do algorithms and persuasive design techniques impact your online life and info / news consumption?
  • Share other thoughts, ideas, & reactions to these sites or persuasive design techniques!

After your discussion, share your thoughts on the Padlet.

Made with Padlet

Striving for Attention Autonomy