The Culture Journalist
The Culture Journalist
Escaping algorithmic culture with Kyle Chayka

Escaping algorithmic culture with Kyle Chayka

How the unseen hand of digital recommender systems shapes what the world looks and sounds like.

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The Culture Journalist is a podcast about culture in the age of platforms. Episodes drop every other week, but if you want the full experience — including bonus episodes, culture recommendations, and our eternal parasocial friendship — we recommend signing up for a paid subscription. All earnings go back into making the show. Also, as of this morning, The Culture Journalist is officially a Substack bestseller. So there’s that.

What do TikTok voice, generic “hipster coffee shop” decor, and Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce Super Bowl kissing photos have in common? According to Kyle Chayka, a staff writer at The New Yorker, they’re all products of something called “filterworld,” his word for a “vast, interlocking, and yet diffuse network of algorithms that influence our lives today.” His new book, Filterworld: How Algorithms Flattened Culture, zeroes in on the rise of algorithmic recommendation systems — essentially, the equations that govern the specific pieces of content that social media, streaming, and e-commerce platforms decide to show us, and in what order — and how they’re pushing us toward a kind of cultural homogeneity or sameness.

Kyle joins us to talk about how exactly digital recommender systems produce this sameness, the kinds of culture that rise to the top on the contemporary internet, and the pros and cons of human gatekeeping versus algorithmic curation. Finally, we discuss tactics for escaping algorithmic culture and reclaiming some of our agency as cultural producers and consumers, both individually and collectively.

Kyle Chayka. Photo by

Join us as we uncover the economic and technological forces percolating beneath the surface of contemporary culture.

Order a copy of Filterworld

Follow Kyle on the platform formerly known as Twitter

Read more by Kyle:

“The tyranny of the algorithm: why every coffee shop looks the same”

“Welcome to Airspace”

“Coming of age at the dawn of the social internet”

Also referenced on the pod:

“Everyone’s a sellout now” by Rebecca Jennings

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