Mind control! CC-BY-2.0.
Mind control! CC-BY-2.0.
Mind control! CC-BY-2.0

The release of the documentary The Social Dilemma has understandably irritated scholars who study the social dimensions of science and technology. Lisa Messeri’s Twitter thread has an excellent summary of all that’s wrong with the documentary (all of which I agree with).

But the documentary’s starting point — that the technical mechanisms these companies have created to direct user attention (a.k.a. algorithms that make you doom-scroll) have deleterious consequences and are our biggest problem today— is something that at least some scholars agree with. I want to highlight one problem with this account (that keeps recurring in technology criticism…


I am an interpretive social scientist who studies platforms, algorithms, data, and expertise. Lecturer at UC-Berkeley. See http://shreeharshkelkar.net for more.

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