The Ethics of Writing for Algorithmic Audiences

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article discusses the ethics of considering algorithms as audiences by drawing on a class dedicated to examining algorithms. While ethical commentary about the use of algorithms has been offered by cultural critics, I argue we need to consider the inner workings of algorithms, which requires demystifying or “unboxing” these things. I draw on my experiences teaching an upper-level elective course, during which we identified ways in which algorithms are obfuscated. I advocate for including technical literacies and methods, such as descriptive statistics, in writing studies courses that focus on algorithms. For writing studies, technical literacies and methods provide us with ethical ways to examine algorithms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102583
JournalComputers and Composition
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • Algorithms
  • Audience
  • Black box
  • Digital rhetoric
  • Ethics
  • New media
  • Pedagogy
  • Social media
  • Teaching
  • Writing studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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