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Good stuff, but you’re right: “in the end it comes down to the individual” to step away from the algorithm ... and that’s freaking hard! I did a version of this experiment just with Spotify, with varying degrees of success (recounted here: https://tompendergast.substack.com/p/digging-my-way-out-of-an-algorithmic)

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You know, you might want to give the Soaring Twenties Social Club community a look: https://soaringtwenties.substack.com/ . Basically a group of writers, artist, flaneurs, etc. who got burnt out in various ways around social media and algorithms and are trying to find ways of self-curating works. We have a Discord too but you must be a paid subscriber to join.

One of the things we're watching is if Substack itself transcends the algo game with its internal recommender.

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There is a bigger question lurking behind all the concern about the algorithm directing culture and attention. How exactly do we discover things? If I looked at all the books I've read, I would be hard pressed to tell you why I read any particular one over any of the unread books I have piled up. It is possible that I have some internal set of values leading me to the kind of book I'd like to read, but they are pretty oblique. Some fandom communities maintain very specific lists of tropes and expectations they want from their stories/art, but I certainly don't anything like that. What I do have is a loose sense of there being various canons. That is to say some kind of synthesized awareness of books that I should read or would be worth reading, developed through all kinds of general book discourse. Books don't come to you on a feed (or indeed most people save booktok-ers). And publishing houses clearly wish there was some way they could feed books to readers, but they really can't. I imagine that for "serious" or "devoted" or "nerdy" connoisseurs of various mediums, it is similar.

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Thanks for this comment! It's really true, I've been thinking about "discovery" a lot and it really might be the ultimate problem. How do we discover new culture / evaluate what will be meaningful to us? Still don't have a good answer, besides reading criticism...

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Good for you. I deleted my Facebook account in 2005. Even then they made you go through a lot of hoops to delete my account. Instagram is still somewhat appealing on my desktop since there are no ads yet. I spend less and less time on Twitter. I am not thrilled with politics and there is just too much there. I enjoy reading and listening to music much more.

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I should have added that I listen to music from my collection of LP's, cd's and digital files. I will never subscribe to Spotify or any other music streaming service.

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