Saturday, January 21, 2012


I recently starting reading a book called The Filter Bubble. I suggest you read it too.

From the introduction alone, I've learned that while the Internet has the ability to democratize and inform the public, new personalization features are threatening and destroying this potential. Author Eli Pariser explains that an invisible revolution is occurring in the way we consume information. Democracy requires a reliance on shared facts, and personalization prevents people from receiving the same facts by offering them “parallel but separate universes” (Pariser, 5). Based on what you “like”, search for, buy, and so on, the Internet orchestrates a personalized world or “bubble” that is specific to you. Pariser explains “more and more, your computer is a kind of one-way mirror, reflecting your own interests while algorithmic observers watch what you click” (Pariser, 3).

This one-way mirror can become dangerous to democracy and learning. One of my favorite quotes from Pariser’s introduction is his reference to Danah Boyd’s speech at the 2009 Web 2.0 Expo where she warns that “if we’re not careful, we’re going to develop the psychological equivalent of obesity” (Pariser, 14).

It is scary to think that we are, in a sense, choosing how we are censored. Our current lifestyles and choices today will become our worst enemy in our quest for objective information and knowledge. How will we ever be exposed to new ideas and different perspectives if we are constantly bombarded with what we already believe and know? It’s comfortable in this filter bubble, yes. But what kind of progress could possibly come from complacency?

Photo Credit: