Monday, June 20, 2011

The Filter Bubble

I finished reading The Filter Bubble by Eli Pariser. I think he's bringing up some important points. Google and Facebook may be protecting us from opposing views - or at least might not be providing us with opportunities to hear opposing views. We also may simple be missing some information because Google thinks it knows what we want THIS search based on prior searches. Interesting post on this from the James Sinclair on his Critical Thinker blog at where an attempt to alter results didn't yield much change which he then tries to explain. So should we conclude that personalization doesn't really make that much difference in search results? One example Sinclair searched was Florida's recent "voter suppression bill" (SB 2086/HB 1355) which of course is a very mildly titled "elections" bill. My searches for the bill numbers include a lot of results with provocative terminology. The bill disenfranchises, suppresses, assault on voters, etc. Did those items come up for me because I agree with the view that the new elections bill is awful? Or... is that a reflection of what people are saying about this bill? I did find some tea partiers who are in favor of the bill: People who don't have picture IDs shouldn't be able to vote. Early voting provides opportunity for fraud. It's too easy to register to vote. Only property owners (i.e. people on the tax rolls as property owners) should be allowed to vote. Hmm... I'm interested that there are actually people who hold those views, but you know... I'm not really expecting to be won over. Yep, I'm in a bubble - not likely to change my mind that there are provisions in new Florida election law that equal voter suppression. Is that Google's fault? I don't think so. Then... we get to Facebook and some other social media: Pariser points out that we giving away a lot of information about ourselves in ways that benefit advertisers while we're told how wonderful it is to be social.

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