Part media literacy project and part citizen science experiment, Algorithm Observatory is a collaborative online lab for the study of social computing algorithms.
The principal investigator in the project is Dr. Ulises A. Mejias, professor of Communication Studies at SUNY Oswego.
Notice: The AO prototype is currently down for maintenance. Please visit this page again for updates.
The Algorithm Observatory platform will allow researchers to design an experiment by focusing on a specific algorithm (a search engine algorithm, or a news recommendation algorithm, for instance), and specifying how subjects are to interact with it (submit a specific query, or access it at a particular time, etc.). AO will allow researchers to recruit participants and collect information. Researchers will then conduct an analysis to compare how the algorithm handles users differently depending on individual characteristics. The results will be shared by publishing a report evaluating the social impact of the algorithm. All data and reports become publicly available and open to comments and reviews. Any algorithm can be studied, because the site does not require direct access to the source code (which is usually proprietary) but relies instead on empirical observation of the interaction between the algorithm and volunteer participants.
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