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Thoughts & Articles

Filter Bubbles on the internet and why you should care.

Jim Infantino

I'm a MAN not an IP address!

Not so long ago, I noticed that on my facebook account, I was only really seeing posts on my wall from a few of the 1000+ friends I currently have. I had recently had an educational and rational discussion with someone with whom I disagree on political matters, and saw that I was no longer getting updates from that person. This is a shame, because without getting differing points of view I feel like I end up in a cul-de-sac of my own opinions, which grow weaker and strager without being challenged.

Then I saw this video by Eli Pariser on TED. Seems it's not just Facebook, but Google that is showing me only what I agree with. And I understand why. If I only get search results that I "buy" or only connect to people who's opinions I "buy" then when they show my an ad for something that I find agreeable, I am more likely to "buy". It's market forces at work in our information cloud. Making it smaller, and more personalized, instead of broader and more varied.

Forgive the sci-fi reference, but I remember this great episode of Star Trek, Next Gen, when the doctor gets unknowingly trapped in something called a "warp bubble" which her subconscious mind fills with people she knows. Everything is fine for a while, until the bubble shrinks, and finally, she is left alone with Picard, who insists it has always just been the two of them on the ship. Finally, he's gone, and she asks the computer, "what is the nature of the universe" and the computer says "the universe is a sphere 800 feet across."

Okay - maybe that's a bit extreme, but I think you can see where I'm going with this. Here's the video:

Perhaps this video and blog entry will never make it to your twitter account, never show up in your google search, never make it to the wall of your facebook page. If so, send me a gmail.