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Thursday, October 13, 2011

How the Internet is Taking Away Your Power to Choose

Eli Pariser

Shortly on 22C+ I will be writing a review of Eli Pariser's book The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding from You. It's a book that should be read by anyone who is interested in the future of the internet and information in general. The book begins with the revelation that in 2008 Google changed its search engine to make it more personalised. It is now true that two people doing the same web search will not necessarily get the same results, because the software "knows" your web history, tailors the results, and feeds back to you the information it 'thinks' you want. In recent times Facebook, Amazon, Yahoo and many other major internet organsiations have followed suit. The result is that you are now being fed a less diversified diet of information when you surf the net. The real (at least on the net) is beginning to look like a circle of ever-diminishing size. This is not what the internet was supposed to be! We should all be concerned because there are 'choices' being made which effect what we "perceive" in the world, and they are not being made by us. They are increasingly made by machines, and those machines are owned and operated by gargantuan internet corporations - run by a 26 year old in the case of FaceBook.

My review will appear here in a day or two. In the meantime, here is an excellent TED talk by Pariser which outlines his essential arguments.

Marcus






9 comments:

  1. great post - very timely - and so true - and far too infrequently that one stops to get the whole - the real - picture of what these changes mean - thanks so much for the info!

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  2. Thanks Gypsywoman, will write more soon...

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  3. That might be true, but overall I think Google and Facebook and Amazon are fairly benevolent 'dictators' of info-distribution. I'm still so impressed every day when I wonder about something and can get an answer within seconds whereas not so long ago, in my lifetime, it would've meant a trip to the library where I often got distracted. I get distracted on the internet, too, but there's no comparison.

    Frankly, I am more concerned about governments taking control of the internet, monitoring us,blocking sites, and repressing the free search for information. Marcus, I'm sure you have experienced that in China and you must see that as the greater danger than a 26-year-old entrepreneur playing in the Digital Age. - Rob

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  4. There are issues with both. Zuckerberg has benign intent, but people need to be aware of getting stuck in a self- regulating reality loop. The same principles are now applying to news services, who check which stories are going viral and create more stories around the same topic what is alluring (sex, violence, scandal) may not be the same as what is important. Nobody is going to "like" a story about floods in Thailand. Ne interesting pic I saw from a Chinese friend on Facebook showed a black couple posing almost naked with Thieir sextuplets. Not one Chinese person " liked " the image, only people with western surnames. Chinese people don't like dark skin, nor dark skinned people. The filter bubble means they may not be exposed to images of people with black skin. It is already almost impossible to find such images in Chinese media and advertising.


    The book is well worth reading.

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  5. By the way
    Rob, did you get my email? Iasked for some advice about book marketing. Can you send me an email so I can send the email to a current address? Mindfutures@ yahoo dot com

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  6. Don't think rob got it, marcus. I'll alert him to it. Intriguing post, as always!

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  7. Thanks, Trish! I don't mind people posting differing opinions. I like to hold lightly to my opinions at any rate. The world (including the internet) is a lot bigger than my ability to perceive it!

    Marcus

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  8. Great post Marcus.
    I found the TED talk quite interesting.
    Cheers / Daz

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