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.

Captivating Algorithms: Recommender Systems as Traps. Journal of Material Culture 24 (4): 421–436.
This article explores a tendency among the makers of recommender systems to describe their purpose as “hooking” people—enticing them into frequent or enduring usage.  Anthropological theories about animal trapping prove useful for thinking about how these systems embody models of their users and sit within broader infrastructural ecologies of knowledge and technology.
December 2019


Revised July 2022 in Somerville, MA