NICK SEAVER

I’m an anthropologist who studies how people use technology to make sense of cultural things.

I teach in the Department of Anthropology at Tufts University, where I also direct the program in Science, Technology, and Society.

My first book is about the people who make music recommender systems and how they think about their work. It’s called Computing Taste: Algorithms and the Makers of Music Recommendation, and you can pre-order it from the University of Chicago Press.

I’m currently studying the rise of attention as a value and virtue in machine learning worlds, from the new tech humanism to the infrastructure of neural networks.

Below, you can find links to my publications. If you’d like to read anything here and can’t access it, please feel free to email me for a copy.
I’m an anthropologist who studies how people use technology to make sense of cultural things.

I teach in the Department of Anthropology at Tufts University, where I also direct the program in Science, Technology, and Society.

My first book is about the people who make music recommender systems and how they think about their work. It’s called Computing Taste: Algorithms and the Makers of Music Recommendation, and you can pre-order it from the University of Chicago Press.

I’m currently studying the rise of attention as a value and virtue in machine learning worlds, from the new tech humanism to the infrastructure of neural networks.

Below, you can find links to my publications. If you’d like to read anything here and can’t access it, please feel free to email me for a copy.

Arrival. Correspondences, Fieldsights, June 27.
This short essay, written for a Cultural Anthropology series on proficiency in fieldwork, uses the plot of the sci-fi movie Arrival to describe a myth that is shared in anthropological fieldwork training and in learning how to code. In both domains, there is a common assumption that learning how to do something (to speak a language, to program a computer) grants a form of unmediated access to new fields of experience; this conflation of proficiency and access is mystifying. Instead, we might think of the acquisition of proficiency not as fieldwork’s precondition, but its substance.
June 2017


Revised July 2022 in Somerville, MA