"Stewardship in the ‘Age of Algorithms’"

Clifford Lynch has published "Stewardship in the 'Age of Algorithms'" in First Monday.

Here's an excerpt:

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.

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