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#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 through personalization
  • Reflect on how our online behavior influences how we encounter, perceive, & evaluate information
  • Explore ways we can build algorithmic awareness & make informed, intentional choices about our information consumption

PANO-sabotage photo of a portion of the Chance and Control: Art in the Age of Computers exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Image credit: "Algorithm" by Bill Smith via flickr under CC-BY 2.0

  This workshop is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Algorithms & the news

Visit each station around the room and answer the 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?

Made with Padlet

Personalization & Recommendation Engines

Explore the links below to garner a better understanding of how recommendation systems / algorithms can personalize our newsfeeds and create echo chambers.

Platform Personalization (review 1-2)

Interactive Sites

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Taking back our attention & escaping the echo chamber

As a group, brainstorm strategies to build algorithmic awareness. Consider the following questions:

  • What strategies do you have for finding balanced news coverage / diverse viewpoints?
  • How can you escape your echo chamber and engage in a more holistic information ecosystem? What is the value of evading your filter bubble?
  • What steps can you take to consciously acknowledge when you are stuck in a personalization feedback loop?

**Feel free to explore the case studies below for ideas & inspiration!


Newsfeeds / Infinite Scroll

Streaming / Autoplay

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Attention Autonomy Tools