This TED Talk by Eli Pariser focuses on how the personalization filters applied by social networks, search engines, smart feed readers and others might be trapping us in a “filter bubble”, avoiding our exposure to information beyond our comfort zone that could broaden our worldview.
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Personally, I was shocked the first time I experienced the same issue than Eli: that I was no longer seeing some Facebook friends updates due to the fact that Facebook decided that if I didn’t “Liked” their updates, then I shouldn’t be bothered with their ugly faces in my happy life. Wrong! Some computer can’t decide what I want or not. Some computer can’t decide that some people is important or not to us. Specially as designers. We live in this world and we need to be in touch with everyone, the good, the bad, the cute girl, the ugly dude. Not just because it’s “useful” for our careers, it’s because it’s good! it’s good to be social, to have friends and also to have people that disagrees with you and doesn’t praises you all the time. People and events that challenge your worldview.
The example of the Egypt search in the video is also shocking. Some guy receives al the harsh truth of what was going on in Egypt, while the other receives Egypt as a magical paradise. At some level, the same thing could happen to you in your own country if it’s big enough.
So the bottom line is that computers can’t decide anymore what is good for us and what things we don’t want to see. Skynet? VIKI? Not at all, is the simple distortion of our relationships caused by a less true social life, despite all these social networks, and a less true worldview, thanks to the personalization in search engines and smart feed readers.
In the end, as Eli says, the web could become a web of one. Lonely and selfish.