Review of the book Algorithmic Desire: toward a new structuralist theory of social media, by Matthew Flisfeder

BLACK, Jack (2023). Review of the book Algorithmic Desire: toward a new structuralist theory of social media, by Matthew Flisfeder. Postdigital Science and Education.

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It is this very contention that sits at the heart of Matthew Flisfeder’s, Algorithmic Desire: Towards a New Structuralist Theory of Social Media (2021). In spite of the accusation that, today, our social media is in fact hampering democracy and subjecting us to increasing forms of online and offline surveillance, for Flisfeder (2021: 3), ‘[s]ocial media remains the correct concept for reconciling ourselves with the structural contradictions of our media, our culture, and our society’. With almost every aspect of our contemporary lives now mediated through the digital, the significance of the algorithm maintains a pertinent importance in making sense of the social and psychic investments that our interactions on social media, as well as other forms of digital media, rely upon and encourage. The socio-political tensions and contradictions that such interaction prescribes remains a reoccurring theme throughout Algorithmic Desire, with Flisfeder masterfully navigating the problems and pitfalls of a burgeoning digital infrastructure that is redefining our lives as social beings. What becomes apparent from Flisfeder’s account is how debates and discussions regarding the algorithm can be couched in a number of pressing concerns, including the proliferation of online misinformation and the contradictions inherent to our freedom and security. While these debates are drawn together through the prism of the algorithm, it is mostly with regards to the medium of social media that Flisfeder examines how our desire and enjoyment are algorithmically organized. This focus is expertly followed throughout the book’s eight chapters, producing a critically engaging inquiry that continually considers the socio-political tensions and ambiguities that frame and sustain our digital media interactions. Ultimately, it is this contention that lends further support to Flisfeder’s assertion that algorithms play a key role in reading our desire. In the discussion that follows, this reading will be critically considered by tracing and outlining a number of key significances underpinning Flisfeder’s approach. Most notably, this will require a discussion of the Lacanian conception of desire; the effects of disavowal and cynical perversion; the importance of ‘maintaining appearances’; and, finally, the significance of the social media metaphor.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sociology, Politics and Policy Research Group; Cultural Communication and Computing Research Institute; Humanities Research Centre; Centre for Sport and Exercise Science; Sport Industry Research Centre; 3904 Specialist studies in education
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SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 21 Sep 2023 11:41
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2023 11:15

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