2011-05-11

TED Talk | Eli Pariser: Beware online filter bubbles”

This is a really, really good talk about something that we all need to keep in mind. If you pay attention, you can already see this happening, big time. Social bubbles like Pariser speaks of have existed for a long time (I know I was raised in one, and if I had gone to a Christian high school and college it would have been even worse), and if this doesn’t change, or people don’t become more mindful of it, this issue could really start to matter.

Think about politics, and the whole birther thing…it would not have had nearly the amount of force without a birther bubble” going on, where people could comment back and forth and only read WorldNetDaily every day, until what they at might have at first only been dabbling in became reinforced daily in their web travels. This is, I think, hampering the ability of the country to come to an agreement on how certain major changes need to get done. Not in the legislature necessarily (though there are certainly belief bubbles existent in Washington), but in the greater public discourse.

Or religion and the Rob Bell dustup, where circles of blogs and their readers fed circles of blogs and their readers, until there were firmly entrenched camps hurling fairly un-Christ-like accusations at each other and missing the entire point of the book.

(Which, unless you wanted it to be, was not about how everyone gets to heaven. Sorry if I popped your bubble.)

I’ve been aware of this for myself when using Google Reader, but I didn’t realize the extent Google and the like went to filter tailor the web. It’s a bit unnerving, and I’m not sure what you do to stop it. Just be aware, and watch yourself: does everything you see on the web agree with your viewpoint? Are you actively seeking out other points of view? If you’re not, you should, because you can’t convince anyone you’re right about anything until you can understand where they’re coming from.


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Wisdom of the Ancients Well, maybe not THAT ancient, but this is sage advice nonetheless. Back in 1907, John Nolen, who is considered a father of American urban planning,