Nothing personal: algorithmic individuation on music streaming platforms

Robert Prey
2017 Media Culture and Society  
Raymond Williams once wrote, '... there are in fact no masses, but only ways of seeing people as masses'. In an age of personalized media, the word 'masses' seems like an anachronism. Nevertheless, if Williams were to study contemporary online platforms, he would no doubt conclude that there are in fact no individuals, but only ways of seeing people as individuals. This article explores this idea by taking a closer look at online music streaming services. It first conducts a comparison of how
more » ... o leading streaming platforms conceive of the individual music listener. Then, drawing from Gilbert Simondon's theory of individuation, it demonstrates how ways of seeing the individual work to enact the individual on these platforms. In particular, ways of seeing are heavily influenced by the consumer categories that are defined and demanded by advertisers. This article concludes with an examination of how commercial imperatives shape 'ways of seeing' and 'algorithmic individuation' on music streaming platforms.
doi:10.1177/0163443717745147 pmid:30270951 pmcid:PMC6146314 fatcat:nbyyj3zgcfdttfggttylncyom4