audiobook (Unabridged) How Algorithms Flattened Culture

By Kyle Chayka

cover image of Filterworld
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One of the BBC's most anticipated books for 2024
'The story told here is instrumental to your own' - Jared Lanier
'Timely, erudite, important' - Ayad Akhtar
What happens when our cultural and artistic lives are dictated to us by an algorithm? What does it mean when shareability supersedes innovation? How can we make a choice when the options have been so carefully arranged for us?
From coffee shops to city grids to TikTok feeds and Netflix homepages the world over, algorithmic recommendations prescribe our experiences. This network of mathematically determined choices - the 'Filterworld' - has taken over, almost unnoticed, as we've grown accustomed to an insipid new normal. But to have our tastes, behaviours, and emotions governed by computers calls the very notion of free will into question.
Internationally recognized journalist and New Yorker staff writer Kyle Chayka journeys through this ever-tightening web woven by algorithms. He explores how online and offline spaces alike have been engineered for seamless consumption. How the lowest common denominator is promoted at the expense of the complex, diverse or challenging. How users of technology contend with data-driven equations that promise to anticipate their desires but often get them wrong. How the FIlterworld is determining the very shape of culture itself.
Chayka skilfully and compellingly traces this creeping, machine-guided curation that influences not just what culture we consume, but what culture is produced. In doing so, he attempts to answer to the most urgent question currently facing us: is personal freedom ever again possible on the Internet?
Filterworld is a fascinating history of the rise of the algorithm and an important investigation into where it could take us next - if we let it.