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Pl, l'm Zach, l'm an asslsLanL professor of Craphlc ueslgn and Lxperlence ArchlLecLure

aL Mlchlgan SLaLe unlverslLy.


And l'm Cabl, l'm a vlslung lecLurer aL Lhe Massachuseus College of ArL & ueslgn ln
8osLon.

We wanL Lo Lhank 8Su for havlng us back and Lo eLer speclcally for moderaung Lhls
Lrack. We've asked eLer Lo leL us go a few mlnuLes over-so lf you have a quesuon
LhaL you don'L geL Lo ask, feel free Lo LweeL aL us, or-of course-[usL grab us durlng
lunch.

1oday, we are here Lo presenL a provocauon of sorLs, Lo ask some quesuons abouL
Lechnologles LhaL have changed whaL lL means Lo deslgn for scale and dlscuss some
of our work as deslgners and arusLs ln Lhls conLexL. ln dolng so, we hope Lo lnLroduce
a crlucal Lheoreucal foundauon for deslgnlng for Lhe sorL-of scale we dlscuss here,
and presenL, more generally, a crlucal lens for deslgnlng aL scale.
1
2
A few years ago, Cabl and l learned of an emerglng dlsclpllne ln Lhe consulung world
called growLh hacklng." We weren'L qulLe sure whaL exacLly lL meanL Lo hack"
growLh, buL sure enough, Lhls new subgenre of value-creauon even had lLs own
Wlklpedla enLry. And apparenLly, lf one querles Lhe Lerm on Coogle, lL's easy Lo nd
several growLh-hacklng" acolyLes, evangellsLs, and even a few speclallzed, experL
growLh hackers." Some of Lhe mosL promlnenL and experL growLh-hackers are based
ln Lhe 8osLon area, where we ran a deslgn sLudlo and wenL Lo graduaLe school. Cne
promlnenL 8osLon growLh hacker wrlLes LhaL, SLarLups are deslgned for asLronomlcal
growLh, Lhey asplre Lo grow aL leasL 30 percenL monLh over monLh whlle large
companles are saused wlLh [usL 3 percenL year over year."
3
CrowLh-aL leasL ln Lhe sense ln whlch Lhe Lyplcal norLh Amerlcan buslness execuuve
worklng say 3 or 10 years ago mlghL undersLand lL-lsn'L enough. And ln Lhls fasL-
paced, compeuuon-fueled world full of sLarLups ready Lo creaLe Lhe nexL app you had
no ldea you needed, buslnesses musL grow qulckly. And Lhe qulcker you grow,
accordlng Lo Lhe experL growLh-hackers, Lhe beuer. 1hls amLude, growLh-hacklng ln
general, and lLs accompanylng ldeology exempllfy Lhe mulu-uered underlylng
problemauc of Lhe unquesuoned value of growLh" ln our conLemporary momenL.
4
A crlucal ouLlook on economlc growLh ls by no means new. 1radluonally, argumenLs
agalnsL Lhe value of unchecked economlc growLh were, whlle sysLemlc ln naLure,
based on Lhe lmpacL of economlc growLh on Lhe envlronmenL, lncludlng Lhe work of
Meadows and oLhers, ln 1he LlmlLs Lo CrowLh (1972). L.l. Schumacher, ln Small ls
8eauuful, wroLe LhaL, 1he modern economy ls propelled by a frenzy of greed and
lndulges ln an orgy of envy, and Lhese are noL accldenLal feaLures buL Lhe very causes
of lLs expanslonlsL success. 1he quesuon ls wheLher such causes can be eecuve for
long or wheLher Lhey carry wlLhln Lhemselves Lhe seeds of desLrucuon." Pe argued
LhaL, "economlc growLh, whlch-when vlewed from Lhe polnL of vlew of economlcs,
physlcs, chemlsLry and Lechnology, has no dlscernlble llmlL-musL necessarlly run
lnLo declslve boulenecks when vlewed from Lhe polnL of vlew of Lhe envlronmenLal
sclences."
3
1he work of someone llke Schumacher mlghL be dlscounLed (lf even read) by growLh-
hacklng grouples and oLhers Lhrowlng speculauve vC money aL Lhe nexL sLarLup
ready Lo desLroy laundry" or dlsrupL educauon," because, hey, we're sLorlng all our
daLa ln Lhe cloud and all our producLs are baslcally lmmaLerlal, rlghL? 1he knowledge
economy ls one LhaL can cerLalnly grow lndenlLely, lsn'L lL? Llke Lhose durlng Lhe age
ln whlch Schumacher was wrlung, we have cerLalnly been bllnded by Lhe allure of
growLh. now we also musL conLend wlLh lLs awless corollary, lnnovauon. Pow can
we quesuon growLh when 8lg uaLa, exponenually lncreaslng compuLauonal power,
and a pleLhora of plauorms LhaL provlde Lransformauve connecuvlLy and Lhe ablllLy
Lo harness all Lhls compuung power and daLa are rlghL aL our ngerups? AL Lhe
ngerups of every deslgner, enLrepreneur, and guy ln Lhe coee shop who mlghL [usL
have Lhe nexL blg ldea? Lspeclally when such Lools serve Lo conrm our blases-LhaL
growLh ls good and LhaL blg daLa and compuLauon reveal unlversal LruLhs?
6
Such Lransformauve Lechnologles and Lools-blg daLa, algorlLhms and lncreaslng
compuung power, as well as Lhe plauorms LhaL unlLe Lhese Lwo and enhance
connecuvlLy-have underscored Lhe lmporLance of scalablllLy ln posL-lndusLrlal laLe
caplLallsm. ScalablllLy has always been a facLor ln Lhe success of buslnesses. 1he
assembly llne was Lhe scalable verslon of bulldlng an auLomoblle by hand. ScalablllLy
of producuon ls sull an lmporLanL elemenL for many buslnesses LhaL produce Langlble
goods, lncludlng hard goods LhaL reLaln some klnd of Marxlan use-value. Warrlor-
Lhe company LhaL supplles Llverpool-had Lo ramp up producuon capaclLy of 8aloLelll
klLs very qulckly once he was slgned, rlghL? 1hus, LhroughouL Lhe decades, scalablllLy
- Lhe ablllLy Lo handle lncreaslng demand or volume, Lo lncrease producuon, or
more wldely dellver servlces - and growLh, lLs necessary counLerparL, have always
been percelved as essenual by lnvesLors and Lhe publlc allke.

When we conslder Lhe lncreaslng amounL of value creaLed ln Lhe realm of Lhe
lnLanglble-value drawn ouL of lnLeracuons and connecLed producL-servlce
ecosysLems-scalablLy Lakes on an enurely new sorL-of lmporLance and meanlng.
7
1he dynamlc scalablllLy of Loday's mosL valuable sysLems - and Lhe sysLems we alm Lo
deslgn speclcally because Lhey are Lhe mosL valuable - forces us Lo deslgn wlLh a
new klnd of scale ln mlnd. lL ls slmulLaneously a hyper-granular scale and an
exLremely blg-plcLure scale. lL ls aL once zoomed-ln and zoomed-ouL, cusLomlzed or
Lallored Lo each user, yeL useful and dellghuul for all users. As commerclal
pracuuoners of lnLeracuon and experlence deslgn, we are oen Lasked wlLh such
goals, creaung elLher an ecosysLem of connecLed LouchpolnLs or a producL or servlce
LhaL lnLegraLes muluple sources of daLa and leverages compuLauon ln order Lo
dellver relevanL and Lallored experlences for users.
8
AbouL a year aer we rsL heard abouL growLh-hacklng," Cabl, our buslness parLner
!ohn, and l were lnvlLed Lo meeL wlLh a small, lnLernal group aL a large lnsurance
company. uurlng Lhls meeung, employees from varlous parLs of Lhe company-from
deslgn Lo managemenL-Lold us abouL some relauvely new developmenLs ln Lhe
lnsurance lndusLry LhaL were changlng Lhe way lnsurance companles, agenLs, and
pollcyholders or lnsurance shoppers lnLeracLed. 1hese developmenLs doveLall wlLh
Lhe Lhree cruclal componenLs of deslgnlng for scale Lo whlch we've begun Lo allude:
plauorms, blg daLa, and algorlLhms. A few sLarLup companles had begun Lo develop
sysLems for maLchlng users wlLh Lhe besL quoLes from a varleLy of companles, sorL-of
llke kayak or CrblLz does for Lravel. 1he Lhlng ls LhaL lnsurance ls a llule more
compllcaLed Lhan buylng a plane uckeL. So no one had really Lrled lL unul recenLly. As
compuLauon has gouen more sophlsucaLed and as lnsurance companles have
collecLed larger Lroves of daLa, Lhelr acLuarlal ablllLy Lo lnfer cerLaln Lhlngs abouL
cusLomers based on daLa of slmllar cusLomers has gouen qulLe a blL beuer.
9
8aslcally, Lhe ldea LhaL several companles were aer ls Lhls: a user arrlves aL a
webslLe, can enLer as llule or as much as he or she knows abouL hls or her car and
drlvlng hlsLory.
10
. and be qulckly and maLched wlLh a relauve degree of accuracy wlLh Lhe lnsurance
carrlers LhaL provlde Lhe besL coverage for LhaL parucular person aL as low a raLe as
posslble.
11
ln prlnclple, Lhls sounds preuy slmple. ln pracuce, lL's exLremely compllcaLed. l mean,
we really had no ldea [usL how compllcaLed Lhls was. Whlch ls where our frlends blg
daLa, algorlLhms, and plauorms come ln. 1here are, accordlng Lo our colleagues aL
Lhls lnsurance company, over a Lhousand daLa polnLs LhaL an lnsurance agenL needs
Lo know abouL a cusLomer ln order Lo glve hlm or her a quoLe LhaL mosL closely
approxlmaLes Lhe cusLomer's monLhly paymenL. Also, dependlng on how a user slgns
ln-Lhey mlghL be allowed or encouraged, for example, Lo slgn ln Lhrough lacebook
or google plus-Lhere's a loL of daLa abouL LhaL user and abouL hls or her hablLs and
behavlors LhaL we mlghL have access Lo. We also have access Lo daLa abouL people
who, dependlng on Lhe meLrlcs we use, mlghL be "slmllar." 8ased on Lhe varlous
pleces of daLa we can collecL abouL a user, elLher abouL hlm or her speclcally, or
abouL Lhose Lo whom Lhe user ls connecLed elLher soclally or caLegorlcally, we can
sLarL Lo make some preuy lncredlble lnferences. 1he 1000 or so requlred daLa polnLs,
of whlch we've maybe only grabbed a hundred or so aL besL, sLarL Lo ll ln preuy
qulckly.
12
now, Lhls ls all preuy lncredlble. And from a Lechnlcal sLandpolnL, lL really ls.
ublqulLous compuung and machlne learnlng allow us boLh Lo gaLher daLa abouL Lhe
mosL mlnuLe aspecLs of our dally exlsLences, and Lhen aL Lhe same ume, crunch all
LhaL daLa and splL ouL some asLoundlng lnferences. Cenerally speaklng, whaL we
were worklng wlLh Lhls cllenL Lo do was Lo deslgn a sysLem whereln we would
leverage varlous plauorms Lo gaLher as much daLa, blg daLa, as posslble abouL a glven
user, Lhen employ varlous algorlLhms (and Lhe proprleLary plauorms Lo whlch Lhey
belong) Lo help us analyze LhaL daLa and make some lnferences and
recommendauons LhaL would be beneclal Lo Lhe user and make good buslness
sense for Lhose provldlng servlces Lo Lhe user.
13
1hus far, Lhls all sounds preuy sLandard. l mean, any compeuuve producL-servlce
ecosysLem LhaL ls operaung Loday wlll surely Lake advanLage of consLanL connecuvlLy
and perpeLually blgger daLa, noL Lo menuon Lhe Lyplcal user's wllllngness Lo share
Lhelr daLa ln exchange for more convenlence or ease.
14
So whaL's really Lhe problem here? Why are we sLandlng up here under Lhe premlse
LhaL we'll be gemng all worked up abouL all Lhls cool sLu LhaL allows us Lo grow our
buslnesses super fasL and scale Lo accommodaLe any amounL of lncomlng or ouLgolng
daLa? Well, Lhe problem ls Lwofold. llrsL, Lhere are underlylng ldeologles drlvlng all of
Lhe Lechnologles on whlch we are bulldlng Lhe complex sysLems and servlces LhaL we
deslgn-Als, for example-buL a lack of conslderauon of Lhe mere exlsLence of
Lhese ldeologles leaves us bllnd Lo Lhe chance Lhe whaL ls belng handed Lo us Lhrough
Lhese Lechnologles ls more Lhan [usL neuLral or "Lrue." Second, a causal lmpllcauon of
Lhe rsL ls Lhe way Lhe ldeologles underlylng Lhese Lechnologles are lmpacung socleLy
as a whole. undersLandlng Lhls Lwo uered problemauc requlres a broad and sysLemlc
approach LhaL crluques and expands Lhe boundarles of Lhe sysLems we are deslgnlng.
We musL be wllllng Lo push Lhe boundarles of where we Lyplcally mlghL esLabllsh Lhe
edges of a sysLem or servlce ln order Lo undersLand Lhe lmpllcauons of Lhe
Lechnologles we employ ln lLs deslgn, and whlle Lhls ls noLhlng new, Lhe sysLems we
leverage ln order Lo deslgn new sysLems have lmpllcauons of Lhelr own, whlch ls
where boLh a mlcro- and macro-lens musL be applled Lo Lhe crluque of sysLem
boundarles.
13
As lnLermedlarles, plauorm Lechnologles occupy a precarlous culLural and
commerclal posluon-Lhey enable Lhe dlsLrlbuuon of lnformauon wlLhouL belng
parLy Lo lLs creauon. 1hrough Lhe use of Lhe Lerm plauorm," Lhey slmulLaneously
posluon Lhemselves as Lools on whlch oLhers sLand," yeL dlsLance Lhemselves from
Lhe acLual conLenL of Lhe daLa belng dlsLrlbuLed (Clllesple, 2012). 1o use Lhe
capablllues of a plauorm (e.g., an Al) also requlres Lhe deslgner Lo submlL Lo Lhe
meLrlcs LhaL Lhe deslgners of Lhe plauorm have deLermlned Lo be worLh measurlng ln
Lhe rsL place. ?ou1ube's Al wlll glve you Lhe mosL popular vldeos, buL noL Lhe leasL.
1hls ls a speclc cholce made by Lhelr plauorm Leam LhaL serves Lhe proL-mouves of
Lhe corporauon.
16
A rellance on large daLa seLs LhaL help us deslgn for scale ralses furLher concerns.
danah boyd and kaLe Crawford (2011) ldenufy a number of provocauons relaLed Lo
Lhe use of "8lg uaLa" lncludlng Lhe Lendency Lowards apophenla, or ndlng pauerns
where Lhere are none. 1hey also allude Lo a common concern of many clvlc-focused
pro[ecLs-LhaL of prlvlleglng LhaL daLa whlch ls accesslble, raLher Lhan relevanL -
when Lhey noLe Lhe dlvldes creaLed by Lhe varlous uers of Lechnologlcal know-how
and fundlng requlred Lo access cerLaln sLores of lnformauon. Lmbedded boLh ln Lhe
compuLauonal lnLerpreLauon of 8lg uaLa as well as Lhe way ln whlch lL ls collecLed --
whaL ls deemed as slgnal" and nolse," whaL parameLers are deLermlned as valuable
for measuremenL -- are Lhe ldeologles and pollucs of Lhe organlzauons and
lndlvlduals programmlng Lhe hardware and soware capLurlng and lnLerpreung all
Lhls daLa. roponenLs of Lhe power of 8lg uaLa, argues naLhan !urgenson, Lend Lo
dlsLance Lhe researchers from Lhe daLa, argulng LhaL Lhe sheer quanuLy of daLa and
Lhe compuLauonal analysls of lL speak for lLself. 1haL passlvely collecLed daLa ls
ob[ecuve and LhaL wlLh enough of lL and enough compuung power, unlversal LruLhs
are lmmlnenL. 1hls ls Lhe myLh of Lhe ob[ecuvlLy of 8lg uaLa. Cf soclal medla slLes,
some of whlch now Lramc ln non-l88 approved uneLhlcal research pracuces,
!urgenson wrlLes, 1he pollucs LhaL goes lnLo deslgnlng Lhese slLes, whaL daLa Lhey
collecL, how lL ls capLured, how Lhe varlables are arranged and sLored, how Lhe daLa
ls querled and why are all full of messy pollucs, lnLeresLs, and lnsecurlues." We have
been seduced by an lnformauonal power (Lash, 2002) LhaL comes aL Lhe expense of
Lhe esLabllshmenL of a dlscurslve space.
17
1o keep our heads above Lhe oodwaLers of daLa rushlng over us, we lncreaslngly
Lurn Lowards, and prlvllege, Lhe lnLerpreuve and analyucal power of algorlLhms. And
yeL, as producLs and servlces become more algorlLhmlc ln naLure, algorlLhms - Lo
whlch we have glven over our agency as synLheslzers and analyzers of lnformauon -
communlcaLe wlLh one anoLher. 1hese communlcauons beLween algorlLhmlc sysLems
may, wlLhouL careful sysLemlc conslderauon, leave humans as bysLanders Lo
excluslvely machlne-readable communlcauons.
18
1ake, for example, Lhe $23.6 mllllon book, prlced by an algorlLhm caughL ln a blddlng
war. ln addluon, Lhe funcuons of Lhe algorlLhms on whlch we rely Loday are based on
Lhe ldeologles of Lhe lndlvlduals and corporauons responslble for programmlng Lhem
ln Lhe rsL place.
19
?ou know, ln Lhe grand scheme of Lhlngs, LhaL lnsurance Lhlng mlghL noL mauer LhaL
much. AL leasL noL Lhe lnsurance Lhlng lLself, buL Lhe componenLs of lL have been
slLuaLed ln relauonshlp Lo one anoLher and ln relauonshlp Lo socleLy as a whole - and
when we as a socleLy accepL Lhe Lerms and condluons of lLs use ln exchange for more
convenlence" or producuvlLy" - LhaL's when lL becomes problemauc. lL's when we
fall Lo undersLand Lhe ecology of relauons LhaL esLabllshes Lhe sysLems and sLrucLures
LhaL we Lake for granLed - LhaL Lhls lnsurance servlce ls [usL a servlce' and noL a
collecuon of lnLerrelaLed sysLems each wlLh Lhelr own ldeologles and blases deslgned
lnLo Lhem, creaLed wlLh cerLaln goals LhaL operaLe aL odds wlLh one anoLher and wlLh
Lhe sLakeholders ln Lhe varlous sysLems of whlch Lhey are a parL - now LhaL ls an
lssue. lL's an lssue because growLh" and lnnovauon" are Lhe words we hear, and we
Lake Lhese words aL face value. 1he wlcked problem" LhaL Lhe folks aL Lhe lnsurance
app company mlghL be Lrylng Lo solve ls only a problem lnsofar as Lhey have dened
lL as such. 8uL everyLhlng ls a nall when all you have ls a hammer. And everyLhlng
requlres a proL when Lhe sysLem esLabllshlng success ls based on proLs. And
everyLhlng ls measurable and Lhus "undersLandable" when we have access Lo so
much daLa.

20
ln a way, Lhe ldeology of 8lg uaLa and lLs almosL-pop-culLure posluvlsm-LhaL lL
embodles some sorL-of unlversal LruLhs-along wlLh Lhe connecuve power of
plauorm Lechnologles and our collecuve falLh ln Lhe posslblllLy and ob[ecuvlLy of
compuLauon have moved us away from acknowledglng Lhe wlckedness" ln Lhe
purporLedly wlcked problems" we should be Lrylng Lo solve. 1he Lransformauve
power of Lhese Lools palred wlLh Lhelr lmmaLerlallLy and lnLanglblllLy end up burylng
Lhe problems LhaL Lhey creaLe more deeply Lhan ever before. 1he complexlLy and
messlness of llfe ls cleaned up Lhrough compuLauon, noL made leglble and noL
revealed for our acknowledgemenL.
21
lL's a challenge Lo wrap up a dlscusslon of Lhese problems because Lhey are so deeply
lnLerLwlned, leadlng us ln clrcles, splrallng down Lowards some klnd of exlsLenual
angsL or, worse, an argumenL LhaL can be percelved very qulckly as a quasl-
hypocrlucal-luddlusm, as we sLand here caresslng our lhones.
22
So Lhe quesuon becomes, as deslgners of all klnds-graphlc, producL, lnLeracuon,
experlence, sysLemlc-are forced Lo grapple wlLh Lhe lmmanence of scale Lhrough
Lhe lnLerconnecLed sysLems of blg daLa, ever more powerful compuLauon and
machlne-learnlng algorlLhms, as well as plauorms LhaL provlde new sorLs of
connecuvlLy and access Lo Lhese resources-ls Lhere a way Lo reLaln an awe for
complexlLy LhaL Lranscends Lhe lncllnauon Lo need a soluuon" LhaL ls measurable"?
23
Well, we wanL Lo suggesL LhaL Lhe answer lles ln maklng arL. And we're noL [usL saylng
LhaL cause we're arusLs. We really belleve Lhls.
24
ln order Lo elaboraLe on Lhls, we're golng Lo use Lhe work of Mauhew luller &
Andrew Coey. 1hey wroLe a book called Lvll Medla. lL's probably Lhe leasL
sysLemlcally consLrucLed book we've read, so we heslLaLe Lo brlng lL up Lo Lhls
audlence, buL LhaL's also sorL of Lhe polnL: Lhey wanL Lhelr work Lo be perplexlng-
garrulous, really-as Lhey convey Lhe complexlLy and lncomprehenslblllLy of Loday's
seemlngly-neuLral medla sysLems. 1hey use Lhe word "aecLlessness."
23
Anyway, ln Lhe book, Lhey argue LhaL Lo "call lnLo quesuon Lhe presumed moral
superlorlLy of Lhose who seek 'Lhe LruLh'"-as Lhe sophlsLs once dld
26
"ls abouL operaung wlLh medla forms, Lechnlques, and Lechnologles LhaL are
excesslvely, absurdly, nallzed as Lo purpose and uullLy"

27
"buL whose seducuve faces of apparenL, personallzed seamlessness"

28
"whose coded and codled bureaucrauc allure"
29
"when regarded from Lhe rlghL angle, presenL muluple occaslons for cray- and
well-craed- explolLauon"

(And LhaL's really whaL we're looklng Lo do)

30
And Lhey provlde Lhose occaslons, "provlded LhaL Lhelr sleek aecLauon Lo
aecLlessness ls probed for Lhe energy lL absorbs."

So LhaL's how we need Lo do lL: counLer Lhe aecL-sucklng-black-hole of Lhese
ob[ecLs.
31
And whaL's Lhe besL way Lo counLer aecLlessness? Well, aecL. AecL, Lhrough arL.

8ecause Lhe problems we're descrlblng are oen Laken as mauers of facL. 1hey are
Lhe underlylng ldeologles and Lhe funcuonlng of Lhe sysLems and producLs and
servlces we use and encounLer everyday. 1helr lnLanglblllLy makes Lhem exLremely
dlmculL Lo see," Lo lnLerrogaLe, lnspecL, or crluque. So one Lhlng LhaL we hope Lo do
by maklng arL abouL Lhls sLu ls Lo render Lhese lssues vlslble and Langlble.
32
WhaL does lL look llke Lo Lake lssue wlLh algorlLhmlc lnference and recommendauon?
WhaL Lype of ob[ecL or lnLeracuon mlghL help someone see Lhe way LhaL such
sysLems of blg daLa capLure and subsequenL lnference and recommendauon Lallor
Lhe condluons of human posslblllLy, and LhaL serendlplLy-Lrue serendlplLy-may be
on Lhe verge of exuncuon?

Well, Whlsper ls a pro[ecL LhaL polnLs aL a near fuLure ln whlch we are compleLely
algorlLhmlcally anuclpaLed, ln whlch 8lg uaLa capLures every slngle momenL and
mlnuuae of our dally llves, and ublqulLous compuung and machlne learnlng are able
Lo capLure qulckly lnformauon from our connecLed household ob[ecLs and make
lnferences and recommendauons ln order Lo enhance convenlence and ease. Cur
washlng machlne ls ready for our nexL load, our LoasLer glves us warmer bread on a
colder day. lL ls a fuLure bere of serendlplLy or surprlse-and yeL we avold
quesuonlng lLs funcuonallLy because of how convenlenL lL ls. Whlsper began as a
proposal for a pro[ecL LhaL would lnLercepL and scramble Lhe daLa belng Lransmlued
from connecLed household ob[ecLs ln order Lo relnLroduce surprlse and serendlplLy
lnLo someone's llfe. ln reallLy, lL ls an lnLervenuonary arLwork, where a user
approaches Lhe devlce, and Lells lL how he or she feels. 1he devlce Lhen Lakes Lhe
user's descrlpuon of her feellng, Lransforms lL Lhrough an assoclauon algorlLhm,
querles Amazon uslng Lhe scrambled daLa, and orders a producL.
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Cabl says LhaL he feels Pappy

Whlsper LhoughL of forLunaLe
Whlsper LhoughL of provldenual
Whlsper LhoughL of luck
Whlsper LhoughL of condluon
Whlsper LhoughL of lnsLrucL

Cne momenL please, scrambllng algorlLhms Lakes ume

Whlsper boughL: lshmael lnsLrucLs lsaac: An lnLroducuon Lo Lhe Cu'ran for 8lble
8eaders

(vldeo llnk: hups://vlmeo.com/110636703)

1hls plece ls boLh seducuve ln form and absurd ln purpose.

Also, Whlsper wlll be lnsLalled aL Lhe lmpakL fesuval ln uLrechL aL Lhe end of Lhls
monLh.
34
Along Lhose same llnes, we made Lhe ?ou1ube uescrambler ln con[uncuon wlLh
uanlel 8uckley. 1hls ls a black box-llLerally-LhaL pro[ecLs some of Lhe mosL popular
?ou1ube vldeos assoclaLed wlLh predeLermlned Lags. lor a user Lo see Lhe leasL-
popular vldeos for Lhe same Lags, he musL physlcally Lurn Lhe crank on Lhe slde of Lhe
box as he baules ?ou1ube's algorlLhmlc lnvesLmenL ln-and nanclal mouvauon Lo
promoLe-popularlLy.
33
vldeo llnk: hups://vlmeo.com/110498213
36
llnally, leL's conslder for a momenL our baslc munlclpal servlces-whlch are belng
lncreaslngly prlvauzed and sub[ecLed Lo a 8lg-uaLa-backed elasuc-prlclng model.
WhaL lf quesuon whaL happens when we have Lo agree Lo a complex Lerms of use
agreemenL for Lhese servlces, absLracung an already complex servlce sysLem, one
LhaL ls lncreaslngly Lallored for machlne readablllLy.
37
uslng my own algorlLhms, Lhe l1unes 1erms of use, and Lhe ueLrolL munlclpal codes
for solld wasLe removal, l creaLed a book of absLracL, concreLe poeLry, masqueradlng
as a munlclpal handbook. LeL me read you one:
38
Cn dlsplay aL Museum of ConLemporary ArL, ueLrolL.
39
All of Lhese pleces co-opL Lhe language of lnnovauon and growLh Lhrough Lhe
lmplemenLauon of Lhe Lhree elemenLs we ouLllned a blL earller: daLa, plauorm, and
algorlLhm. 1he pleces dlsgulse Lhemselves as ob[ecLs wlLh uullLy, buL also ob[ecLs wlLh
luller and Coey's "sleek aecLauon Lo aecLlessness"-bullL Lo absorb an energy,
Lurn lL around, and splL lL back ouL.
40
lL ls our [ob as arusLs and educaLors Lo bulld Lhese ob[ecLs and lnsplre ln our sLudenLs
Lhe deslre and skllls Lo do so, as well.
41