I am utterly pumped to share the pre-print for my article, “Messing with the Attractiveness Algorithm: a Response to Queering Code/Space.” This piece will be part of a 2018 special issue “Queering Code/Space,” edited by Daniel Cockayne and Lizzie Richardson for Gender, Place and Culture. I’ve only loading this piece to Socarxiv for open access. I was honored to be asked to be a part of this special issue, a follow-up to Dan and Lizzie’s “Queering Code/Space” session at the 2016 AAG in San Francisco. The pieces in the rest of the issue by the editors, Olu Jenzen, Sam Miles, and Carl Bonner-Thompson are great contributions to thinking about the imbrication of queer lives and spaces and the production of code/space. Along with my response to those pieces, I incorporated a failure I have seen in code for over a decade now. Lacking actual access to the vast archives of OkCupid and other dating app/website data, and also very busy with other projects (the book is truly being written!), I decided to share those findings here. Namely, I argue that the inequalities laden within OkCupid dating algorithms or what it calls its “atrractiveness algorithm” (and similar dating apps and sites, surely) create the vast holes this creates in lesbian, queer, and trans dating, and, in turn, produce a shared geographical imagination of isolation. Fie, OkC, and hurrah, queer messiness and messing with!
Responding to the collection of articles, “Queering Code/Space,” this article discusses how algorithms affect the production of online lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) spaces, namely online dating sites. The set of papers is well timed: lesbian bars have closed en masse across the US and many gay male bars have followed suit so that online spaces fill—or perhaps make—a gap in the social production of LGBTQ spaces. I draw on Cindi Katz’s idea of “messy” qualities of social reproduction and the necessity of “messing” with dominant narratives in order to think about the labor, experience, and project of queering code/space.