Salon posted an interview with Eli Pariser of Moveon.org fame in their series “The Influencers.” Pariser introduces the idea of “the filter bubble,” which is an important concept to consider when thinking about how people interact with various web services. He discusses how web services such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon, are creating highly individualized experiences which undermine the idea of a shared Internet community. He defines this filter bubble as “a personal ecosystem of information that’s been catered by these algorithms to who they think you are.”
He explains why he thinks this is dangerous:
We thought that the Internet was going to connect us all together. As a young geek in rural Maine, I got excited about the Internet because it seemed that I could be connected to the world. What it’s looking like increasingly is that the Web is connecting us back to ourselves. There’s a looping going on where if you have an interest, you’re going to learn a lot about that interest. But you’re not going to learn about the very next thing over. And you certainly won’t learn about the opposite view. If you have a political position, you’re not going to learn about the other one. If you Google some sites about the link between vaccines and autism, you can very quickly find that Google is repeating back to you your view about whether that link exists and not what scientists know, which is that there isn’t a link between vaccines and autism. It’s a feedback loop that’s invisible. You can’t witness it happening because it’s baked into the fabric of the information environment.
This type of individualized encounter with the Internet and with social networking is an important concept to consider since everyone’s experience is growing more and more unique.
Pariser also delves into his thoughts about net neutrality in the interview. The entire article can be found here.