From: Ann Shumelda Okerson <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Mon, 4 Dec 2017 19:08:11 -0500

Definitely worth a detour!

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Cliff Lynch <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Mon, Dec 4, 2017 at 7:55 AM
Subject: [CNI-ANNOUNCE] Documenting Personalization & Social Media: My New
FIrst Monday Paper
To: CNI-ANNOUNCE -- News from the Coalition <[log in to unmask]>

I'm thrilled and honored to  to share the news that I've got a paper in
the new December 2017 issue of First Monday (open access), which
summarizes about a year of thinking about and studying how we might
document the plethora of systems (including social media) that make
heavy use of personalization and often also machine learning algorithms
of various sorts. I have come to the conclusion that traditional
digital preservation approaches are not likely to be helpful here and
that very different approaches are needed. This raises some interesting
questions about roles and responsibilities in the enterprise of
stewardship of the cultural record. I suspect that some of this may be
controversial, but I think it's a conversation that we need to
undertake. I would welcome any thoughts from our community on this.

I'll have a few things to say about this in my opening plenary at the
upcoming CNI member meeting in Washington DC in a few day.

Here's the pointer to the paper:

and I've pasted the abstract below.

Clifford Lynch
Director, CNI



This paper explores pragmatic approaches that might be employed to
document the behavior of large, complex socio-technical systems (often
today shorthanded as “algorithms”) that centrally involve some
mixture of personalization, opaque rules, and machine learning
components. Thinking rooted in traditional archival methodology ―
focusing on the preservation of physical and digital objects, and
perhaps the accompanying preservation of their environments to permit
subsequent interpretation or performance of the objects ― has been a
total failure for many reasons, and we must address this problem. The
approaches presented here are clearly imperfect, unproven,
labor-intensive, and sensitive to the often hidden factors that the
target systems use for decision-making (including personalization of
results, where relevant); but they are a place to begin, and their
limitations are at least outlined. Numerous research questions must be
explored before we can fully understand the strengths and limitations
of what is proposed here. But it represents a way forward. This is
essentially the first paper I am aware of which tries to effectively
make progress on the stewardship challenges facing our society in the
so-called “Age of Algorithms;” the paper concludes with some
discussion of the failure to address these challenges to date, and the
implications for the roles of archivists as opposed to other players in
the broader enterprise of stewardship ― that is, the capture of a
record of the present and the transmission of this record, and the
records bequeathed by the past, into the future. It may well be that we
see the emergence of a new group of creators of documentation, perhaps
predominantly social scientists and humanists, taking the front lines
in dealing with the “Age of Algorithms,” with their materials then
destined for our memory organizations to be cared for into the future.