Grassroots Algorithms: A New Book Display on Social Media

| February 6, 2018

180201_Display_219x365Looking into the crystal ball, we see a plethora of possibilities that may foretell the future — good or bad — of social media. Creativity on the up, privacy on the line, video more integrated, advertising run wild… We also can harvest data, crunching numbers to make sense of current trends and future directions of websites or applications that let us create and share content, or just participate in social networking. But somewhere between fortune and fact, we suspect at least one thing: social media is not going away — if anything, it is playing a bigger and bigger role in the way we live, seen by its influence in shaping human experience. While it’s a tool to define, create, innovate, change, organize, revolutionize, and/or join fellow beings, it’s also up to us as to how we use it, or where we go with it. With educational, psychological, and health implications, social media prompts the complex, democratic “why” in a bristling world of computer-generated problem-solving.

Writes Kaitlin Kehnemuyi, exhibit curator and Innovation Fellow specializing in Library Materials and Acquisitions:

Remember the Arab Spring revolutions in 2011 and the toppling of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt? Social media was credited for helping start and continue those revolutions. Fast forward to present day when Russian bots probably influenced voters in our last presidential election by feeding us false stories that confirmed biases and isolated us in our positions even more. Social media allows us to build communities that reflect our likes and passions which makes it feel like a grassroot movement. But, when there are algorithms saying ‘you two should be friends because you both believe the world is flat’, is that still grassroots?

Can social media exist in this dichotomy of grassroots and algorithms? Is it changing our behavior, or just reflecting actions that we have always manifested? Isn’t it just giving us a way to amplify all of our IRL behaviors? Or are we making smaller and smaller communities that parrot back our beliefs? Can it still bring revolution? Or just pictures of cute doggies?

On display in the Everett Cafe through mid March, Grassroot Algorithms looks at how social media was and can be used for organizing, while it limits collaboration through its algorithms. Books from the display may be checked out from the First Floor Library Services desk, for a period of two weeks.


IrresistibleAlter, Adam. Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked. New York: Penguin Press, 2017

Cafe HM851 .A437 2017




Spying_on_democracyBoghosian, Heidi. Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power, and Public Resistance. San Francisco, CA: City Lights, 2013.




ComplicatedBoyd, Danah. It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2014.

Cafe HQ799.2.I5 B68 2014




We_Are_DataCheney-Lippold. We Are Data: Algorithms and the Making of Our Digital Selves. New York: NYU Press, 2017.

Cafe HM851 .C4446 2017


DissentParis, David. Dissent and Revolution in a Digital Age: Social Media, Blogging, and Activism in Egypt. London, New York: I.B. Tauris, 2015.

Cafe DT107.87 .F3715 2015



AlgorithmsFinn, Ed. What Algorithms Want: Imagination in the Age of Computing. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2017.

Cafe HM851 .F5565 2017



TweetingGainous, Jason and Kevin M. Wagner. Tweeting to Power: The Social Media Revolution in American Politics.  Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2013.

Cafe JA85.2.U6 G35 2014




Haning_OutIto, Mazuko, Heather A Horst, Judd Antin, et al. Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2019.

Cafe HQ799.2.M352 H36 2010



Participatory-CultureJenkins, Henry; Mikko Ito and Danah Boyd. Participatory Culture in a Networked Era: A Conversation on Youth, Learning, Commerce, and Politics.  Cambridge, England: Polity, 2015.

Reserve HQ799.9.I58 J46 2015



ConsentMacKinnon, Rebecca. Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom. New York: Basic Books, 2012.




Net_DelusionMorozov, Evgeny. The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom. New York: PublicAffairs, 2011.




Becoming_DigitalMosco, Vincent. Becoming Digital: Toward a Post-Internet Society. Bangles, U.K: Emerald Publishing, 2017

Cafe HM851 .M67 2017




NormiesNagel, Angela. Kill All Norms: Online Culture Warsfrom 4Chan and Tumblr to Trump and the AltRight. Zero Books, 2017.
Cafe HM851 .N36 2017




Weapons_of_Math_DestructionO’Neil, Cathy, Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy. New York: Broadway Book,s 2017.




NetworkedRainee, Lee and Barrie Wellman. Networked: The New Social Operating System. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2014.





Data_GoliathSchneier, Bruce. Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World. New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 2015.

Cafe JC596.2 .S36 2015



EverybodyShirky, Clay. Here Comes Everybody. The Power of Organizing without Organizations.  New York: Penguin Press, 2008

Cafe HM851 .S5465 2008





Sunstein, Cass. #Republic: Divided Democracy in the Age of Social Media. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2017.

Cafe HM851 .S869 2017



Move_FastTaplin, Jonathan. Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy.  New York: Little, Brown, and Co., 2017

Cafe  HM851 .T365 2017




People's_PlatformTaylor, Astra. The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power in the Digital Age. New York: Metropolitan Books, c2014.

Cafe HM851 .T39 2014



Twitter_and_Tear_GasTufekci, Zeynip. Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest. New Haven CT: Yale University Press, 2017.

Cafe HM742 .T84 2017



Alone_togetherTurkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More Technology and Less from Each Other. New York: Basic Books, 2001.




At the Everett News Cafe, you’ll find a new book collection every few weeks that relates to current affairs, education, or learning environments.