Beware online “filter bubbles”
invisible algorithmic filtering of the web
there is no standard google anymore – because everyone is tailoring for us
and the thing is – this is hard to see – so most don’t know it
what’s in your filter bubble depends on who you are and what you do, but you don’t decide – and you don’t even know what gets filtered out
we may have the story of the internet wrong… we’re not seeing the democracy – but rather – a passing of the torch (of the gatekeepers) from human gate keepers to algorithm
if algorithms are going to determine what we see – we need to make sure they aren’t just keyed to relevance.. but things that are uncomfortable..challenging.. important.. other points of view
1915 – we’ve been here before… newspapers were filtering.. couldn’t have a functioning democracy unless people were informed
we’re kind of back in 1915 on the web – and we need the gatekeepers to code that well-roundedness back into the web.. a sense of the public life – transparent enough that we can see – and have some control
we need the web to help us all stay open –
book links to amazon
– – – – –
You could say that on December 4, 2009, the era of personalization began.
beginning of google search
Left to their own devices, personalization filters serve up a kind of invisible autopropaganda, indoctrinating us with our own ideas, ..
They called their field “cybernetics”—a word taken from Plato, who coined it to mean a self-regulating system, like a democracy
PageRank was just a small part of the Google project. What Brin and Page had really figured out was this: The key to relevance, the solution to sorting through the mass of data on the Web was … more data.
To provide perfect relevance, you’d need to know what each of us was interested in. You’d need to know that I’m pretty clueless about football; you’d need to know who I was.
Early newspapers existed to provide business owners with information about market prices and conditions, and newspapers depended on subscription and advertising revenues to survive.
based on things we no longer need – perhaps..? what if money were no object ness..
After World War I, tensions about what role the newspaper should play boiled over, becoming a matter of great debate among two of the leading intellectual lights of the time, Walter Lippmann and John Dewey.
“To learn to be human,” Dewey argued, “is to develop through the give and take of communication an effective sense of being an individually distinctive member of a community.”
right as i’m reading this – Anya tweets this quote (before just now – don’t remember hearing the name w lippmann):
“You know in a general way that intelligence is the capacity to deal successfully with the problems that confront human beings …but if you try to say what those problems are, or what you mean by “dealing” with them or by “success,” you will soon lose yourself in a fog of controversy”. — Walter Lippmann
In Dewey’s vision, it is these issues—“indirect, extensive, enduring and serious consequences of conjoint and interacting behavior”—that call the public into existence. The important matters that indirectly touch all of our lives but exist out of the sphere of our immediate self-interest are the bedrock and the raison d’être of democracy.
.. most personalized filters have no way of prioritizing what really matters but gets fewer clicks.
resonation with working on app – and needing echo chamber – to not be swayed by likes et al
It’s not just that experts are vulnerable to confirmation bias—it’s that they’re especially vulnerable to it.
.. people with more education can actually become mis-educated.” And while this phenomenon has always been true, the filter bubble automates it. In the bubble, the proportion of content that validates what you know goes way up.
can’t get this to sink in (makes sense for the filter bubble – but does it encompass all forms of curiosity? that we have to suspect something being hidden?:
according to george lowenstein, curiosity is aroused when we’re presented with an “information gap.” it’s a sensation of deprivation: a present’s wrapping deprives us of the knowledge of what’ in it, and as a result we become curious about its contents. but to feel curiosity we have to be conscious that something’s being hidden. because the filter bubble hides things invisibly, we’re not as compelled to learn about that we don’t know.
talking about adderall – and filter bubble – both focusing you. problem being – that when you focus – you lose curiosity – creativity. reminds me of Ellen Langer – focus on outcomes can make you mindless..
.. it reduces our sensitivity to new stimuli. ADHD patients call the problem hyperfocus—a trancelike, “zoned out” ability to focus on one thing to the exclusion of everything else. On the Internet, personalized filters could promote the same kind of intense, narrow focus you get from a drug like Adderall.
reduces our sensitivity to new stimuli. – via Langer – (oct interview) – paying attention to new things reverses aging..
Hans Eysenck has found evidence that the individual differences in how people do this mapping—how they connect concepts together—are the key to creative thought.
.. some of the most important creative breakthroughs are spurred by the introduction of the entirely random ideas that filters are designed to rule out.
and school. and science. …
.. ideas emerge frequently in places where random collision is more likely to occur.
.. personalized Web encourages us to spend less time in discovery mode in the first place.
.. being around people and ideas unlike oneself is one of the best ways to cultivate this sense of open-mindedness and wide categories.
.. when it comes to really new ideas, innovation is in fact often blind. Aharon Kantorovich and Yuval Ne’eman are two historians of science whose work focuses on paradigm shifts, like the move from Newtonian to Einsteinian physics. They argue that “normal science”—the day-to-day process of experimentation and prediction—doesn’t benefit much from blind variation, because scientists tend to discard random combinations and strange data. But in moments of major change, when our whole way of looking at the world shifts and recalibrates, serendipity is often at work. “Blind discovery is a necessary condition for scientific revolution,” they write, for a simple reason: The Einsteins and Copernicuses and Pasteurs of the world often have no idea what they’re looking for. The biggest breakthroughs are sometimes the ones that we least expect.
His book is filled with examples of these environments, from primordial soup to coral reefs and high-tech offices, but Johnson continually returns to two: the city and the Web
what ecosystem – city
There’s no question that Johnson was right:
“The shift from exploration and discovery to the intent-based search of today was inconceivable,”
This shift from a discovery-oriented Web to a search and retrieval–focused Web mirrors one other piece of the research surrounding creativity. Creativity experts mostly agree that it’s a process with at least two key parts: Producing novelty requires a lot of divergent, generative thinking—the reshuffling and recombining that Koestler describes. Then there’s a winnowing process—convergent thinking—as we survey the options for one that’ll fit the situation. The serendipitous Web attributes that Johnson praises—the way one can hop from article to article on Wikipedia—are friendly to the divergent part of that process. But the rise of the filter bubble means that increasingly the convergent, synthetic part of the process is built in. Battelle calls Google a “database of intentions,” each query representing something that someone wants to do or know or buy. Google’s core mission, in many ways, is to transform those intentions into actions. But the better it gets at that, the worse it’ll be at providing serendipity, which, after all, is the process of stumbling across the unintended.
no agenda ness
To some degree, the sheer volume of information available mitigates this effect. There’s far more online content to choose from than there was in even the largest libraries.
so.. the city
To be truly helpful, algorithms may need to work more like the fuzzyminded, nonlinear humans they’re supposed to serve.
or keep pointing us back off the algorithm – zoom dance ness
It may have persisted for one simple reason: There was no sign on the maps for “don’t know,” and so the distinction between geographic guesswork and sights that had been witnessed firsthand became blurred.
i don’t know ness
This is one other way that personalized filters can interfere with our ability to properly understand the world: They alter our sense of the map. More unsettling, they often remove its blank spots, transforming known unknowns into unknown ones.
.. personalized filters usually have no Zoom Out function, ..
yes. that works. zoom out button. zoom in button.
wondering. on section about Zuckerberg saying he has one identity. if that’s more a misunderstanding. ie: one eclectic identity – in perpetual beta. so really – one identity.. you.. but it can never be defined.
daniel solove. we are more than the bits of data we give off as we go about our lives.
the plasticity of the self allows for social situation that would be impossible or intolerable if we always behaved exactly the same way.
i don’t know mark .. but i can’t imagine him thinking one identity means he acts the same way ..
but the one-identity problem illustrates one of the dangers of turning over your most personal details to companies who have a skewed view of what identity is. maintaining separate identity zones is a ritual that helps us deal with the demands of different roles and communities. and something’s lost when, at the end of the day, everything inside your filter bubble looks roughly the same. your bacchanalian self comes knocking at work; your work anxieties plague you on a night out.
what if this is more a sign that we have settled for a definition of a human because of man made – orders of the day. what if shifting those gears is more because we’ve accepted these assumed roles as a given. ie: work, night outs because we’re exhausted from work, … what if it’s more that most of us don’t get identity.. (#1 regret ness and eudaimonia ness) because we’ve gone along with the separating ourselves – into different categories. what if we quit that.. and realized that we didn’t have to shift identities depending on context. what if everything changes – when we realize – we really have nothing to prove. wondering.
and when we’re aware that everything we do enters a permanent, pervasive online record, another problem emerges: the knowledge that what we do affects what we see and how companies see us can create a chilling effect.
again – complete shift from where we are now.. but if we all had something else to do.. and companies/business/reputations became irrelevant.. would we be thinking about any of this. have we created this worry. this potential badness. perhaps via things we don’t even want.. if given a real choice. too much ness.
eckles noticed that when buying products – say, a digital camera – different people respond to different pitches.
if eckles is right – and research so far appears to be validating his theory – your “persuasion profile” would have a pretty significant financial value. it’s one thing to know how to pitch products to you in a specific domain; it’s another to be able to improve the hit rate anywhere you go.
doesn’t it seem odd that most all our studies/research on humanity.. center around us being in a consumer role. ie: how we act when buying/selling. what if that became irrelevant. what if persuasion becomes irrelevant. what if we’re missing humanity.. because we can’t see us without consumerism. consumerism is man made. not natural. no?
talking about Marissa and Eric both referencing a future google w/o a search bar. from eric, ie: smartphone doing searches constantly – “did you know.. did you know..”, as your phone figures out what you’d like to be searching for. that would be bad. no? that would be using tech in a way to shut us down rather than wake us up. ie: counter to curiosity. it’d be like cc-ified school on steroids. no? this is what you need.. here are the key questions. go ahead.. be curious about them. (spinach or rock) buy them. like them. be them.
(karl) popper posed his problem in a slightly different way: just because you’ve only ever seen white swans doesn’t mean that all swans are white. what you have to look for is the black swan, the counterexample that proves the theory wrong. “falsifiability,” popper argued, was the key to the search for truth: the purpose of science, for popper, was to advance the biggest claims for which one could not find any countervailing examples, any black swans. underlying popper’s view was a deep humility about scientifically induce knowledge – a sense that we’re wrong as often as we’re right, and we usually don’t know when we are.
The statistical models that make up the filter bubble write off the outliers. But in human life it’s the outliers who make things interesting and give us inspiration. And it’s the outliers who are the first signs of change.
.. everything will be so clearly calculated and explained that there will be no more incidents or adventures in the world.
.. our best moments are often the most unpredictable ones. and entirely predictable life isn’t worth living.
But to focus exclusively on the firewall’s inability to perfectly block information is to miss the point. China’s objective isn’t so much to blot out unsavory information as to alter the physics around it—to create friction for problematic information and to route public attention to progovernment forums. While it can’t block all of the people from all of the news all of the time, it doesn’t need to.
“There’s a randomness to their enforcement, and that creates a sense that they’re looking at everything.”
.. rather than decentralizing power, as its early proponents predicted, in some ways the internet is concentrating it.
I was a bit surprised when the first weapon he referred me to was a very quotidian one: a thesaurus. The key to changing public opinion, Rendon said, is finding different ways to say the same thing.
.. managing perceptions. “It begins with getting inside the algorithm.
obama… i serve as a blank screen… audacity of hope in 2006… on which people of vasstly different political stripes project their own views.
.. downside of fragmentation… harder to lead… content that remains constant between all constituencies – is shrinking dramatically.
.. filter bubble.. play(ed) to our postmaterial desire to max self-expression. but once ew’re in it, the process of matching who we are to content streams can lead to the erosion of common experience and it can stretch political leadership to the breaking point.
breaking point of political leadership – that may be good – no?
.. town meeting.. my first impression of democracy..
.. on dialogue… (written by).. wilkes-barre,.. david bohm.. atomic bomb. he writes:
“What is the source of all this trouble? I’m saying that the source is basically in thought.” For Bohm, the solution became clear: It was dialogue. In 1992, one of his definitive texts on the subject was published.
.. communicate, bohm wrote, literally means to make something common… more often … group’s coming together to create a new, common meaning.
Bohm saw an additional reason why dialogue was useful: It provided people with a way of getting a sense of the whole shape of a complex system, even the parts that they didn’t directly participate in. Our tendency, Bohm says, is to rip apart and fragment ideas and conversations into bits that have no relation to the whole.
“The prime difficulty” of democracy, John Dewey wrote, “is that of discovering the means by which a scattered, mobile, and manifold public may so recognize itself as to define and express its interests.”
In the early days of the Internet, this was one of the medium’s great hopes—that it would finally offer a medium whereby whole towns—and indeed countries—could co-create their culture through discourse. Personalization has given us something very different: a public sphere sorted and manipulated by algorithms, fragmented by design, and hostile to dialogue.
.. very programmer’s career begins with “Hello, World!” is not a coincidence.
.. brand – tools & tech turned people, normally at the mercy of their environments, into god in control of them. and the computer was a tool that could become any tool at all.
.. Fred Turner.. from counterculture to cyberculture: (stewart) brand and his cadre of diy futurists were disaffected hippies – social revolutionaries who were uncomfortable with the communes sprouting up in haight-ashbury. rather than seeking to build a new world through political
.. (brand – whole earth catalog) – rather than seeking to build a new world through political change, which required wading through the messiness of compromise and group decision making, they set out to build a world on their own.
.. d rushkoff – if you have a program that needs a minder to come in and help it run, then it’s not a very good program, it it? it’s supposed to just run.
.. g coleman – politics tends to be seen by programmers as buggy, mediated, tainted action clouded by ideology that is not productive of much of anything.
but for programmers to shun politics completely is a problem – because increasingly, given the disputes that inevitably arise when people come together, the most powerful ones will be required to adjudicate and to govern.
unless we can change that. unless tech (used a different way) can change/enhance how we communicate, see/hear each other.. no?
.. systematizing inevitably involves a trade-off—rules give you some control, but you lose nuance and texture, a sense of deeper connection.
robert moses).. he included the low bridges to make it harder for low-income (and mostly black) ny-kers to get to the beach, as public buses – the most common form of transport for inner-city residents – couldn’t clear the overpasses.
whoa – this was robert moses (j jacobs) – on the clearance sign for bridges by design rather than oversight. whoa.
Moses’s “monumental structures of concrete and steel embody a systematic social inequality, a way of engineering relationships among people that, after a time, became just another part of the landscape.” On the face of it, a bridge is just a bridge. But often, as Winner points out, architectural and design decisions are underpinned by politics as much as aesthetics.
..Moses’s bridges are worth keeping in mind. The algorithms of Google and Facebook may not be made of steel and concrete, but they regulate our behavior just as effectively.
Sean Parker, the cofounder of Napster and rogue early president of Facebook, tells Vanity Fair that he’s drawn to hacking because it’s about “re-architecting society. It’s technology, not business or government, that’s the real driving force behind large-scale societal shifts.”
kellybelieves that the technium, as he calls it, is more powerful than any of us mere humans… will get what it wants whether we want it to or not.
Audrey seems to have this take of Kelly as well. naivety/ignorance or whatever – when i read the book – i didn’t get that impression.
but technology doesn’t solve every problem of its own accord. if it did, we wouldn’t have millions of people starving to death in a world with an oversupply of food.
see. this is where i think it’s up to us to get the sync down.. for this to happen. we do have all the resources. but we’re in such a pickle. .. that i do think we need tech (at least temporarily) to jolt us back to us. ground that initial chaos. get us back to listening.
once you’re on the road to mass success and riches – often as a very young coder – there simply isn’t much time to fully think all of this through. and the pressure of the venture capitalists breathing down your neck to “monetize” doesn’t always offer much space for rumination of social responsibility.
thiel – by starting a new internet business, an entrepreneur may create a new world,.. the hope of the internet is that these new worlds will impact and force change on the existing social and political order. [..] .. we have some big decisions to make about technology. and as for how those decision get made? – i have little hope, that voting will make things better.
Heiferman (meetup.com) – after reading bowling alone – i became captivated by the question of whether we could use tech to rebuild and strengthen community.
Scott made an impassioned plea for the assembled group to focus on solving problems that matter – ed, health care, the environment. it didn’t get a very good reception – in fact, he was just about booed off the stage. we just want to do cool stuff, was the attitude.
Melvin Kranzberg, a professor who studies the history of technology, put it best nearly thirty years ago, and his statement is now known as Kranzberg’s first law: “Technology is neither good or bad, nor is it neutral.”
coca-cola village amusement park… in israel. sponsored by facebook and coke, the teenagers attending the park in the summer of 2010 were given bracelets containing a tiny piece of circuitry that allowed them to like real-world objects. [..] rfid (radio frequency idenfication) chip. don’t need btteries, and there’s only one way ato use them: call-and-response. provide a little wireless electromagnetic ower, and the chip chirps out a unique identifying code. correlae the code with, say, a fb account, an dyou’re in business. a single chip can cost as little as 7 cents, ..
ambient intelligence. .. items you own, where you put them, and what you do with them is, after all, a great signal about what kind of person you are and what kind of preferences you have.
a science of people with money ness.
Machines may be able to see results without models, but humans can’t understand without them.
huge. model another way ness.
Vladimir Nabokov once commented that “reality” is “one of the few words that mean nothing without quotes.”
The irony is that they (machine driven systems) offer this freedom and control by taking it away.
The more power we have over our own environments, the more power someone who assumes the controls has over us.
so better to go with no power.. no?
In order to find his own self, [a person] also needs to live in a milieu where the possibility of many different value systems is explicitly recognized and honored. More specifically, he needs a great variety of choices so that he is not misled about the nature of his own person. —Christopher Alexander et al., A Pattern Language
While the Internet has the potential to decentralize knowledge and control, in practice it’s concentrating control over what we see and what opportunities we’re offered in the hands of fewer people than ever before.
tech designed to give us more control over our lives is actually taking control away.
Technology designed to give us more control over our lives is actually taking control away. Ultimately, Sun Microsystems cofounder Bill Joy told me, information systems have to be judged on their public outcomes. “If what the Internet does is spread around a lot of information, fine, but what did that cause to happen?” he asked. If it’s not helping us solve the really big problems, what good is it?
Something is wrong with our media. But the Internet isn’t doomed, for a simple reason: This new medium is nothing if not plastic. Its great strength, in fact, is its capacity for change.
“We create the Web,” Sir Tim Berners-Lee wrote. “We choose what properties we want it to have and not have. It is by no means finished (and it’s certainly not dead).” It’s still possible to build information systems that introduce us to new ideas, that push us in new ways. It’s still possible to create media that show us what we don’t know, rather than reflecting what we do. It’s still possible to erect systems that don’t trap us in an endless loop of self-flattery about our own interests or shield us from fields of inquiry that aren’t our own.
too much ness. we can.
Alexander’s mosaic is based on two premises about human life: First, a person can only fully become him- or herself in a place where he or she “receives support for his idiosyncrasies from the people and values which surround him.” And second, as the quotation at the beginning of this chapter suggests, you have to see lots of ways of living in order to choose the best life for yourself. This is what the best cities do: They cultivate a vibrant array of cultures and allow their citizens to find their way to the neighborhoods and traditions in which they’re most at home.
Going off the beaten track is scary at first, but the experiences we have when we come across new ideas, people, and cultures are powerful. They make us feel human. Serendipity is a shortcut to joy.
Google has also argued that it needs to keep its search algorithm under tight wraps because if it was known it’d be easier to game. But open systems are harder to game than closed ones, precisely because everyone shares an interest in closing loopholes.
whoa – 70% of credit reports have errors.. according to us pirg.
Transparency doesn’t mean only that the guts of a system are available for public view. As the Twitter versus Facebook dichotomy demonstrates, it also means that individual users intuitively understand how the system works. And that’s a necessary precondition for people to control and use these tools—rather than having the tools control and use us.
In the fight for control of the Internet, everyone’s organized but the people.
Protecting the early vision of radical connectedness and user control should be an urgent priority for all of us.
Eli Pariser (born December 17, 1980) is the chief executive of Upworthy, a website for “meaningful” viral content. He is a left-wing political and internet activist, the board president of MoveOn.org and a co-founder ofAvaaz.org.
need for 24/7 personal fabrication ness
via ethan z rts
We need a new digital public media system that gathers attention, earns trust and is sustainable, argues @elipariser, modeling this both on public television and on models like the Texas Tribune. #MIForum
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/EthanZ/status/994616010064977920
we need a mech that gathers curiosities.. perhaps we’re driving/spending attention from the wrong end .. as it could be
“The truth is not going to distribute itself, and what we have right now is just not working.” And the worry is that democracy may not be working either. @elipariser at #MIForum
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/EthanZ/status/994617107433259011
Eli Pariser (@elipariser) at #MIForum – you could put all the fake news aside, and we’d still have the problem: the truth isn’t loud enough, and the marketplace of ideas is rigged.
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/EthanZ/status/994611094726610944
deeper problem.. all of us fake people.. oscar wilde: most people are other people