Hit me with your algorithm stick

It’s very rare I write anything about politics because there’s such depth to it that I never feel like I’ll ever know enough to argue my position with absolute conviction.

I also like to think it’s because I’m open-minded, and I’m prepared to realign my views. I’ve never stood still long enough for the political concrete to set around my feet.

So what’s this got to do with my day job? Good question – I’m glad you asked.

Copywriting is about knowing your audience, so you can give them what they want. If it doesn’t hit the mark, they won’t feel anything. Worse, they may not even notice you.

That’s true in many forms of marketing and advertising. It has to be relevant. And as the industry develops, we’re using increasingly sophisticated insights and data to target our audience more precisely.

When we know people’s habits – what they like to see, and when they like to see it – we can give them more of what they want.

Algorithms are the driving force behind this movement. They’re working out what we like, and giving us more of it.

It sounds like a good deal, but as an individual I don’t feel like I’m seeing enough of the things that will challenge my views of the world any more.

I’m only watching or reading things I’m likely to agree with, because my next destination is decided by algorithms – and that’s creating these echo chambers where people preach to the converted.

The UK is divided. The US is divided. Like a jury that’s deadlocked, sometimes you just need to consider a different perspective, or a bit of new information, to challenge what you believe.

The days of reading about something you don’t agree with are fading, which is a shame because I think it’s necessary to see your views in context.

I’m not suggesting Britain has become polarised because of algorithms, but we can’t underestimate the power and influence they have on the way we live our lives and structure our beliefs in 2017.