I am currently a PhD student at the University of California, Berkeley. My primary research interests center on how technology is affecting the production and consumption of classical music in contemporary American culture. In particular, I am interested in the role machine learning algorithms are playing as cultural intermediaries in our digital spaces.
I originally studied piano performance and pedagogy. After my Master’s, I detoured into the technology sector — first at Epic Systems (the Amazon of healthcare IT), implementing electronic medical record systems in hospitals around the country, and then at the Willy Street Co-op, a large grocery co-op based in Madison, WI, working in data analytics and IT. My experiences there sparked an interest in how technology drives culture.
Drawing on my experiences as a musician, I saw parallels between Western music history and current cultural trends. People — especially those possessing cultural capital (i.e. power) — have always constructed our musical history and our culture. Today, while some old power structures have held, Big Tech has emerged as a new cultural power broker, endowing some artists with cultural capital at the expense of others. I am interested in exploring the relationships between developers, software, musicians, and audiences over the course of my studies.
Piano remains a secondary area of focus, with the solo keyboard music of J.S Bach currently occupying a central place in my repertoire. For more information about this work, visit https://allisonjerzak.com.