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The list

“There is an algorithm that starts to spike. The page begins to gain traction. She stops talking, and the bot carries on…”
She put names on a Google spreadsheet. Categories, too. All these documents go up and then they start to stare back. People call bits of the story a whisper network because they all already knew, and this is transgression without punishment. They said she spun out stories like a wolf from a cub. Big Data trapped up in between, lagging on spins of the wheel. It has to go somewhere to become something, they say. It cannot exist as a lunge without muscles. There are friends and stakeholders, who know how to make a whisper loud. They suggest she changes the permissions on the document, so that anyone with a link can view. They suggest she creates square cards for socials, seamless in their detail with a 3D text effect. Spreadsheet as info bite. A rumour carrying a boat out to water.

She adds a column for detail, so the narrative can feel more human. This list won’t be a mystery. It won’t just stay on Twitter. A group of activists sees her stories. She opens the floor to them. They start a page. Followers are encouraged to submit names, too. New stories come out, and some of them echo one another. A tailor from Central Saint Martins who said he wouldn’t turn around, but he did. A producer in a sailor’s cap who thought it was a bad dream, and it wasn’t. A man who offered a free DJ lesson and then changed his mind mid-blend.

There is no trial, no meeting place. There is an algorithm that starts to spike. The page begins to gain traction, signal boosted by another larger page. In between Instagram reels of people dancing, they direct people back to the site of stories. Words are used. Words like ‘community justice’ and ‘beat the algorithms’. Momentum is gained. Anonymous burner accounts from allegedly high-profile voices contribute, with details that place them high and far. Someone suggests making a bot which Tweets the stories on rotation. An industry begins to formulate around the words.

The algorithms are clear. There are listicles on Marketing Weekly that users can refer to. You shouldn’t leave one page for another. Post content, not news. This news of theirs quickly goes, because once you know it, it is old.

Everything about her is shadow banned, made invisible. She used to be a thinker. Now she feels predictive, with stories that won’t stick, won’t shatter. She stops talking, and the bot carries on. The list remains up, with all the names on. People don’t bother to get their names off it anymore. At a club, she sees a line-up sheet taped onto a bar. Twitching lights throw letters in and out of sight. A slideshow of orange and mauve. One name stands out and she scrawls more beside it. Quote bubbles and stick people. Clubbers get their drinks and then they look. The DJ cues in songs at the same rate that his name has picked up numbers. He becomes videos, a template. He looks up from his decks with his arms out to the crowd in prayer. His name starts to stare back.

Tice Cin

Tice Cin is an interdisciplinary artist from north London. She has an MA in English: Issues in Modern Culture from UCL. Tice has acted and performed at venues such as Battersea Arts Centre and the Barbican’s Pit Theatre, and has been commissioned by organisations including St. Paul’s Cathedral and Edinburgh International Book Festival. She was named one of Complex magazine’s best music journalists of 2021, and has written for places such as DJ Mag and Mixmag. Her debut novel, Keeping the House (And Other Stories, 2021) was named one of the Guardian’s Best Books of 2021, and has been featured in The Scotsman, The New York Times and The Washington Post. A DJ and music producer, Tice is preparing to release an accompanying album for Keeping the House with a host of talented features. A filmmaker, she is currently writing and co-directing three short films. With her collective Design Yourself, she explores what it means to be human when technology is changing everything

© Tice Cin