Assignment in preparation of the workshop

To assist you in developing your classification of algorithms, we ask that you begin before the workshop by identifying one or two algorithms (your favorites!). Using the Guidelines below, please prepare a preliminary “field” guide entry for these algorithm(s).  We ask you to write up your findings (or dance them, or do whatever you want, but be prepared to present your “expedition” to the group when we begin). Below in “Guidelines” we suggest a basic set of categories. Please try to fill them out, but also feel free to make up new “categories”.

When we meet at Leuphana you will break into groups. Each person will share their field guide entry for the algorithm and you will work together to combine your entries into a collective field guide. It may include new forms of classification, new models of representation outside of or beyond those being shown below.



In preparing for the workshop please choose an algorithm you would like to study, go through the following categories and fill out this matrix:

Internal physiology — An ‘internal’ description of the algo (its parts and pieces), what is its phenotype? Or what pieces is it comprised? “Genes?” “organs” “codes”?

External physiology — An ‘external’ description of the algo, how does it appear to other interfaces (how it appears to other elements), its morphology, how does it act, what does it do, what are its physical functions?

Niche — Within the given domain, what is the specific ‘industry sector’ or ‘community’ that keeps this algo ‘alive’? Habitat/ecology (e.g. social network, manufacturing, supply-chain), invent new ecological terms: replace forest, swamp, desert, with something else.

For Example:

  1. Energy — for example energy grid load adjustments, pricing, building management systems
  2. Transport — efficiency, logistics, Supply Chain Management
  3. Finance — high-speed trading, credit-debt swaps, derivatives, futures markets,stress testing, etc.
  4. Information / Communications —  routing algorithms for signals, network infrastructure, optimization for telecommunications, etc.
  5. Territorial — insurance, zoning, pricing land
  6. Social — personalization, social network analytics, data gathering, crowd sourcing
  7. Security / Encryption — cryptography, key systems, etc.
  8. Policing / Surveillance — profiling, tracking / tracing/ demography/population management
  9. Labor — on-demand production, robotics
  10. Knowledge — weather, large scale genomics or physics projects

Range — What are the multiple ecologies this species inhabits? What is the distance and duration of the algorithms activities?

Alimentation — What does it ‘eat’?

Excrementation — What does it ‘shit’? What are its traces or signs? How does one track the animal?

Coloration — How to address the aesthetics of the algo? (visualisation, what does it look like?)

Vocalization — How to address the aesthetics of the algo? (sonification, what does it sound like?)

Sentimentalization — How does it feel? How does it make you feel?

Affinities / Antagonisms — What is it like? What is it not like? Friends and enemies?

Relationships / Ecologies — What is it related to? What is “like” it, what other species is similar?

Genealogy — This would likely be a person / research group or party that invented / patented / etc., said algo. The standard system of genealogy is Domain, Phyla, Class…etc.

Genealogy 2 Genealogy 1

Mythology — This would be a non-factual ‘impression’ that people have of this algorithm (e.g.: “Markov chains match patterns the way that brains do”)

Life history — How long does it ‘live’? What are its temporalities?

Reproductive Behavior — sexual/a sexual/other? Describe. Does it nest? Where does it reproduce or produce? What are its mating and propagating practices?

Leave a Reply