The Social Life of Algorithmic Values: Examining the Impact of Value-Based Frameworks in Everyday Life


  • Ignacio Garnham
  • Rachel Smith



Value-based frameworks are widely used to guide the design of algorithms, yet their influence in mediating users’ perception and use of algorithm-driven technologies is vastly understudied. Moreover, there is a need to move research beyond a focus on human-algorithm interaction to account for how the values these frameworks promote – algorithmic values – become socialised outside the boundaries of the (human-algorithm) interaction and how they influence everyday practices that are not algorithmically mediated. This paper traces the entanglement of algorithmic values and everyday life by mapping how residents of the Salvadorian town of El Zonte perceive the top-down transition of the town into "Bitcoin Beach" through value-driven transformations to diverse aspects of their material culture and built environment. This approach advances empirical research on the impact of algorithms by acknowledging the myriad ways in which those who won’t or can’t (afford to) interact with algorithm-driven technologies are impacted by the value-based outcomes of their programming and provides novel insights for critically examining the role of algorithm-driven technologies in shaping sustainable futures.