You might also be interested in: recommender algorithms and social imaginary, the case of YouTube

Massimo Airoldi


Recommender systems are a widespread type of online algorithm, which suggests personalised contents to “digital consumers”. By automatically creating links between items – such as Amazon products, TV series on Netflix, music artists on Spotify – recommender systems co-construct today’s social imaginary. They contribute to shape pop cultures’ “webs of meanings” and trace new symbolic connections shared by media publics. Starting from a recent literature about online algorithms’ power and diffusion, this article aims at problematizing the relationship between recommender systems and social imaginary. The case of the recommender algorithm employed by YouTube, the world’s most popular video sharing web platform, will be presented. Here, it will be interpreted as a twofold technology: on the one hand, the algorithm impacts on the users’ digital experiences; on the other hand, it represents a brand new source of real-time data about the trajectories of contemporary cultures and imaginaries.


algorithms; social imaginary; YouTube; social media; recommendation systems; consumption;

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