Distribution Aggregation and the Social

Because we live in flows, how we distribute and aggregate effects the social. As Dannah Boyd said “This idea suggests that you’re living in the stream: adding to it, consuming it, redirecting it” (2009). With an abundance of information to consume, it becomes vital to sort the information that is most relevant to us. More traditional forms of aggregation may be filing away important documents into a labelled folder, with each type of document – doctors letters, bills, receipts – in separate sections so that all the information is readily accessible but organised in a meaningful way. As the web becomes our most prevalent source of information these systems have to be put in place as otherwise information loses meaning as it can not be defined in its proper context. The consequences of having so much information available is also the demands of attention. Danah Boyd explains that while more people are able to add to the assemblage of information, attention is not divided equally. Hierarchies of attention are involved and one of the ways this is done is through aggregation. An example of online aggregation in the simplest forms is Facebook. The platform provides the ability to prioritise certain friends though categorizing them as aquaintences, friends, close friends or compiling other custom catagories. Notifications can then be received for those close friends and less notifications for those who are only aquaintences. Thereby directly affecting the social of our everyday lives. This example then becomes more complicated as Facebook algorithms try to predict what is deemed more relevant to you and what you want to consume on your feed, showing only what has the most likes, or showing things that can be monetized. This automatic aggregation can be slightly modified by choosing the “most recent” tab on the newsfeed options but it does serve as a possible issue of the future. By having our information aggregated for us ethics could be called into question as distributors have the ability to censor information.

What Is Implied by Living in a World of Flow, Hubert Guillaud, Truthout January 2010
last accessed 16/10/2014


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