Toward an anthropology of computer-mediated, algorithmic forms of sociality

Eitan Wilf*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


This article argues that contemporary, computer-mediated, algorithmic forms of sociality problematize a long and major tradition in cultural anthropology, which has appropriated the notion of artistic style to theorize culture as a relatively distinct, coherent, and durable configuration of behavioral dispositions. The article's ethnographic site is a lab in a major institute of technology in the United States, in which computer scientists develop computerized algorithms that are able to simulate the improvisation styles of past jazz masters and mix them with one another to create new styles of improvisation. The article argues that the technology that allows the scientists to simulate and mix styles is playing an increasingly important role in mediating contemporary forms of sociality over the Internet and that the anthropological tradition that has theorized culture as artistic style has to be reconfigured to account for the dynamic nature of these contemporary forms of sociality not as styles but as styles of styling styles.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)716-739
Number of pages24
JournalCurrent Anthropology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2013


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