The Filter Bubble

I didn’t think I really need to take the Information Literacy class until I went into one, a few days a go. I usually consider myself information-literate enough. But hell, I was wrong.

The whole class was a bit dull, but in a particular point, the lecturer told us about something that’s called the filter bubble. I knew that search engines are smart (if not resembling the All-Knowing God), but I never realized that those engine filtered (and yes they still do filter) the search results through a complicated set of algorithms.

The algorithms are made from a broad database of what you usually read/browse in your computers, where you access it, your sitting position while browsing, etc, etc.. Try google (nobody use Yahoo as a verb, right? haha) something, compare your results with your friends’ and they’ll be different.

Even worse, Facebook’s doing it too! If you don’t interact regularly with the news feed of some of your friends, Facebook will simply not show their news feed from your wall. So you will not even know what those friends think and share in the future.

In short, the internet only shows you what it thinks you want to know. It’s called “personalization.” But as a result, we’re mostly trapped inside the filter bubble, not knowing what’s actually happening outside that bubble.

Eli Pariser gave an inspiring speech about the vicious filter bubble in a TED session in February 2011. He wrote a book about it, too. You can watch the video here:

(or watch it in TED’s website, allowing you to choose one of the 31 subtitles on it:

And read / follow what you can do to avoid being trapped in that bubble here:

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  1. Also, there something called search editor — manually programming things we want you to see.

    (terpaksa komen dan keluar dari kenyamanan reader huh)

  2. Google juga melakukannya kan? Tapi ini bisa jadi bahaya juga lho, kalau para editor itu menyembunyikan fakta tentang sesuatu (atau berpihak pada salah satu pihak)

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