Credit Score Desimulator™️: Consumerization, Parody, and World-Making in U.S. Credit Scoring

Public lecture with Malte Ziewitz from Cornell University

December 15, 15.00-16.30, DPU, Aarhus Universitet, Tuborgvej 164, Emdrup, A401

Scores and metrics play a central role in ordering our lives. Obtaining a loan, renting an apartment, ranking in web search results, or making the shortlist for a job: all these activities depend on judgments generated through a range of computational techniques like data analytics and predictive algorithms. In this talk, I will take a closer look at how these scores are marketed to those who have to live with them. What does it take to consumerize a scoring product and what are the implications for the scoring subjects? To explore these questions, I will take a closer look at one particular instance of a consumer-facing scoring product, namely the interactive genre of the Credit Score Simulator. Often touted as a tool for learning and financial literacy, these simulators invite users to experiment with different scoring factors to see how these affect their scores. Drawing on a mix of textual analysis, ideas from science & technology studies (STS), and a design experiment, I aim to unpack the peculiar politics of consumer-facing scoring products—and offer an intervention in the spirit of what Michael Mulkay called “analytic parody.”

Malte Ziewitz is Associate Professor at the Department of Science & Technology Studies at Cornell University. An ethnographer and sociologist, he studies the changing role of governance and regulation in, of, and through digitally networked environments. His recent work has looked at the lived experience of credit scoring subjects, the search engine optimization (SEO) industry, and attempts at algorithmic regulation. At Cornell, he directs the Digital Due Process Clinic, a clinical research program that helps ordinary people cope with, understand, and challenge automated decision systems.

The public lecture is part of the Algorithms, Data and Democracy public talks.

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