Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Filter Bubble by Eli Pariser

This book was published in 2011, so when I picked it up, I was a little worried that the information would be outdated or irrelevant. But I was wrong, and if anything, it's more important than usual (although some of the examples are a little dated). The subtitle of this book is: How the New Personalised Web is Changing What We Read and How We Think, and it basically sums up the book.

In other words, this book is about our virtual lives. Currently, our Google search results, our Facebook feeds, and now our Instagram feeds, are all personalised to what the algorithms think we want. And while this is good in some ways, there are downsides to this as well.

For one, it tends to create an echo chamber. Don't like someone's stance on something? Facebook will notice, and after a while, you won't see that anymore. It might seem nice, but how are we supposed to walk the metaphorical mile in someone other's shoes if we can't even see their shoes?

Another thing would be the tendency for the algorithms to give us what we want  instead of what we need (in terms of news). Unless we're highly engaged with the world and make a deliberate effort to seek other points of view, we might end up with a newsfeed that ignores major events in favour of Hollywood gossip because that's what we click on. Obviously, this can be detrimental to our ability to listen to other viewpoints. It may even affect our creativity.

If you're interested in social media and how the Internet can change you, you should give this book a read. It's easy to read, with little to no jargon, but it talks about a very important aspect of the Internet that not many of us consider.

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