The Ghost in the Machine
My favorite architecture theorist, Sanford Kwinter, wrote this in 1997:
“The efficient but one-dimensional marketplace world in which we live…is a world, one could say, in which we are hectored mercilessly by design, swathed in its miasma of artificial affectation, hyperstyle, and micro-human-engineering that anticipates, like a subtle reflex arc, our every move and gesture. Design has now penetrated to, even threatens to replace, the existential density, the darkness, the slow intractable mystery of what was once the human social world.”
Today, instead of calling it “design,” we refer to this same invisible, ubiquitous force (or an evolved version of it) as “algorithms”—a term that does have a specific meaning, but which has also expanded far beyond those boundaries to encompass a multitude of invisible forces that shape our experience of digital environments, and which subsequently imprint themselves upon culture and the physical world. When we hate something about the internet (which is increasingly similar to hating something about the world in general), algorithms and “algorithmic culture” are frequently what we blame.