The world of innovations that the humankind discovered after the disruptive information and communication technologies had been developed led to questioning some of the basic aspects of people’s lives. The concept of personal interactions, information management, and other critical aspects of being human have undergone drastic changes, solving some of the problems and adding new ones. “Hello World: Being Human in the Age of Algorithms” by Hannah Fry has attempted at resolving some of the questions that the introduction of innovative technologies has posed. By outlining how modern media shapes interactions, Fry agrees with Benkler’s (2006) standpoint on social constructivism and the role of the public sphere, also addressing the possibility of lesser institutionalization as specified by Bimber (1998).
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The foundational ideas of social constructivism underlie the premise of Fry’s argument quite distinctively, which allows connecting them to Benkler’s argument. Specifically, the premise that the increase in the number of the social dialogue participants will lead to the different management of sociopolitical issues is where Fry (2019) agrees with Benkler (2006). However, Fry (2019) also outlines the dangers of the described change, arguing that the extent of political manipulation may increase in the online environment.
At the same time, Fry’s (2019) perspective on the changes that ICT will bring suggests that the extent of institutionalization will drop, leaving loopholes for a rise in risks of financial issues, homelessness, and other economic concerns. The problem of manipulation is admittedly a large one, yet building awareness may help in counteracting the issue.
Among the crucial issues that Fry (2019) addresses in her book, the problem of control needs to be listed as one of the central themes. Introducing tools for managing the flow of information is essential to the security of users and the effectiveness of communication, as Fry explains (2019). Thorson and Wells (2015) agree with the specified position, explaining that the process of curating communication within the context of modern media implies the participation of every agent.
Fry (2019) also mentions the importance of a collaborative effort in the management of online communication. Moreover, Fry (2019) emphasizes the opportunities that the cooperation between a human and an algorithm invites. In this respect, the issue of algorithm curation as the potential source of threat to personal security needs to be addressed. Implying that personal information is collected based on one’s online behavior, algorithm curation may entail drastic outcomes for people’s data safety.
Despite the differences in the standpoints of Bimber (1998) and Benkler (2006) compared to Fry and each other, the paper by Fry manages to integrate their contemplations concerning the issue of social constructivism, the role of the public sphere, and the lower levels of institutionalization in her book. Thus, Fry (2019) hints at the great opportunities that algorithms provide, which has also been explored in recent studies (Chai & Fan, 2016). The book manages to extrapolate the positive aspects of disruptive information and communication technologies, at the same time dispelling some of the concerns that may have arisen from the trends observed in modern media.
Although Fry’s perspective is not completely flawless, it does convey a substantial amount of common sense, detailing the latest trends in modern media and helping to understand how it shapes the people that consume it. Thus, Fry’s definition of humanity in the age of algorithms agrees with the viewpoints on social constructivism and public sphere as described by Benkler (2006), and the drop in institutionalization rates forecast by Bimber (1998), with Fry perceiving these changes from an objective point of view, evaluating both opportunities and threats.
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Benkler, Y. (2006). Introduction: A moment of opportunity and challenge. In The wealth of networks: how social production transforms markets and freedom (pp. 1-18). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Bimber, B. (1998). The Internet and political transformation: Populism, community, and accelerated pluralism. Polity, 31(1), 133–160. Web.
Chai, J. X., & Fan, K. K. (2016). Mobile inverted constructivism: Education of interaction technology in social media. Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science & Technology Education, 12(5), 1425-1442. Web.
Fry, H. (2019). Hello world: how to be human in the age of the machine. London: Black Swan.
Thorson, K., & Wells, C. (2015). Curated flows: A framework for mapping media exposure in the digital age. Communication Theory, 26(3), 309–328. Web.