The internet filter bubble – be warned, be aware and be open

This is, in my view, one of the most important issues facing us and the web today.  It is quite simply the fact that info is filtered specifically for your viewing.  It is customised specifically to you based on a significant number of parameters.  You may think Google or others are presenting results based on your search words alone but they are not.  They are using your location, likes, history and many other pieces of data to present the information they think you want to see.  Unique lists for each individual, each of us inside our own little filtered internet bubble.  As Forbes said in their piece ‘Breaking out of your internet filter bubble’ it is not, or probably not, a conspiracy.  It is just companies trying to maximise return on revenue by keeping users happy.

So why is this a problem(read the Forbes piece!)? Well Eli Pariser says it better than I ever could so take the time to watch the video. It is only 9 minutes and explains this area very clearly and concisely with no conspiracy theory talk or beating up on the companies.  It is level-headed, informative overview of the topic.

However, aside from the Google, Yahoo, Facebook and others feeding us what it thinks we want to see we are also guilty of ‘filtering’ content ourselves.  It might be your subscriptions on Facebook, or the people you follow on Twitter.  Do you push to find people who are not like you? People and orgs you don’t necessarily agree with or even like?  If you politically are left leaning do you follow right leaning people\orgs or vice versa? Do you follow people\orgs across countries and continents and across religions and race? Do you follow non-profit and multinational for-profit companies?

Or like many of us do you surround yourself with like-minded people that have similar interests and a similar outlook on life? This type of place is a very comfy area in which to live and exist online with our believes and view of the world constantly re-inforced by those we interact with.  However it really is somewhat delusional.  It is not the real world that exists out there.  It is a bubble we have created for ourselves and one we can’t blame the big companies for.  Unfortunately for many of us it is a very easy place to end up without even realising it.

Advice?  The issue of advice for who to follow on Twitter, subscribe to on Facebook or blog to follow is an argument I seem to have over and over again.  Many advise us to follow and engage like-minded people, with similar interests, hobbies and pastimes.  I don’t necessarily disagree with that but it should not be the end of the advice.  I would also say to follow people outside your interests, believes, hobbies and pastimes.  Move around, pick a museum, a newspaper, a musician, a techie, a trekky, an arrogant politician, a radio station, a newspaper, a human rights leader, a footballer, a multinational CEO, your local pizzeria and a government party.  You might be surprised who\what you start to like and engage with and who can educate you.  Diversify your stream of information.  I don’t mean overload it with people you hate.  Be reasonable but step outside your known circle of people and interests.

The internet and what it offers us is endless as long as we don’t constrain it by staying in our comfort zone.  Get out there, explore it and burst your bubble.

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Categories: Technology

Author:Feker

Another techie with another blog. Dad, husband and F1 fan.

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