The Algorithm

I sometimes forget that most of social media is governed by an attention span algorithm instead of a reverse chronological algorithm. There are at least a couple times, however, when I’m reminded of that fact:

  1. I Google a new topic or interact with a new creator on a platform and suddenly my feed is all about that topic or creator. As an example, my current Youtube main page is D&D and Cities: Skylines II. Just one week ago it was retro gaming single board computers, programming, and Cities: Skylines II. The stark difference in the recommendations on a page that I load at least once daily can sometimes be jarring.
  2. Semi-related to the first point, my phone’s alerts for Youtube and Twitter tend to narrow to the last 1-2 creators I interacted with. Right now I’m only seeing YT alerts from the official D&D YT account and City Planner Plays. On Twitter I’m only seeing alerts from my local county and this person who posts about 1990s-2000s Contemporary Christian Music. And this has the weird effect of making it seem that no one else that I follow is creating new content. Then I go to my follower page on either app and realize that, no, there is a TON of new content by all the people I follow. I recognize that if the phone were to alert me for every person I follow, I might never be able to use my phone for all the alerts, but I do wish it were slightly more balanced. Maybe more of a power law or something. At one point I was only getting Twitter alerts for an author I follow and I’m sure it seemed odd that I was always commenting, but that also made the algorithm see more engagement so it kept giving me more of her Tweets.