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    Engaging opacity: Spotify and the poeisis of algorithmic backends

    Markham, Tim (2023) Engaging opacity: Spotify and the poeisis of algorithmic backends. In: Parks, L. and Velkova, J. and De Ridder, S. (eds.) Media Backends: Digital Infrastructures and Sociotechnical Relations. The Geopolitics of Information. Champaign, U.S.: University of Illinois Press, pp. 95-109. ISBN 9780252045349.

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    The music streaming platform Spotify is sustained by a backends that goes largely unnoticed by users, from its algorithmic deign and energy consumption to the way streamed artists are paid (or not). Counter-intuitively, however, this chapter argues against an ethics of transparency and accountability regarding Spotify’s backend architecture. Drawing on recent work by Louise Amoore as well as Judith Butler’s reading of Spinozan ethics, opacity is fundamental to accountability. The partial knowability of Spotify’s history, design and capacities is thus the essence of what it means to find oneself always already in an environment of which it is partially constitutive. Far from advocating ignorance, a phenomenological approach grounds an ontological understanding of media backends that is agile, self-generative and above all ethical.


    Item Type: Book Section
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Spotify, algorithmic accountability, Baruch Spinoza, opacity, media phenomenology, digital ethics
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Creative Arts, Culture and Communication
    Depositing User: Tim Markham
    Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2023 06:09
    Last Modified: 10 Nov 2023 06:09


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