Writing for Algorithms

Special Session at the 2015 Modern Language Association (MLA) Convention (January 8-11, Vancouver, Canada)

Writing, as it is practiced by bloggers and spammers, no longer exclusively addresses humans, but also the algorithms of search engines and email filters. In a similar way, a new generation of students at colleges throughout the country learns to adapt their essays to the criteria of automated grading apps. For the first time in history, we human readers are no longer the sole audience of the written text.

What is the effect of this expansion of audience on human readers who experience, consciously or otherwise, their expulsion from the center of the textual universe? How does the emerging writing for algorithms change the landscape of traditional training in composition and poetics? Which new insights about the fundamental structures of relevance, coherence, and authenticity in linguistic communication can we gain from the struggle between spammers and the software engineers at Google & Co.?   

The panel seeks to answer these questions by combining contributions from a wide range of possible theoretical and professional backgrounds, including, but not limited to, rhetoric, linguistics, literary theory, media studies, journalism, and programming.

Please send a proposal of up to 250 words for a 15-minute presentation by March 15, 2014 to [log in to unmask].

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