An informal look at economics, finance, and statistics
The downside of a personalized Internet: The Filter Bubble
Ever since I became a heavy user of Google Reader, I find that I spend almost my entire day logged into my Google account. That has some upsides, like it remembers my most recent searches. Even better, I’ve trained Google to not show me any hits from MyLife.com or eHow.com or Yahoo! Answers.
It has a big downside, though … Sometimes I feel Google’s results are are missing some crucial hits. I have increasingly turned to DuckDuckGo to supplement Google’s search results. (I have to admit, I’m hooked on DuckDuckGo’s “sort by date” results to get newer pages.)
Turns out, I’m not alone.
Internet activist, Eli Pariser says that the personalization of the web puts us in a Filter Bubble in which, yes, we get the information we are seeking, but we get only the information we are seeking.
At first sight, it does appear that the more personalised our search results, the better right? For instance, by tracking our locations, Google can give us weather forecasts for our parts of the world. It can also curate a list of videos that may potentially interest us by monitoring what we watch on YouTube. But as Internet activist, Eli Pariser, details in The Filter Bubble, a personalised Internet casts a looming shadow as well.
In The Filter Bubble, Pariser discusses a number of reasons why personalisation of the web is not necessarily a good thing. And they all stem from one central theme which he takes considerable time to convene: personalisation creates a filter bubble around us that pampers us and only shows us what we want to see, effectively un-democratising the Internet for each one of us. For example, if you are a conservative, you will get results tailored to your conservative views. If you are a climate change denier, you will not be linked to articles which explain the consequences of global warming.