Monday, December 10, 2012

Living in a Bubble

Oh no!  I watched a recommended video on YouTube, and now the site is all like "YAY!  You DO love us!  Here!  Try this one, and this one and this one, and oooh you will really like this one, and and and and and....."


It wouldn't be so bad if it wouldn't clog out my subscriptions and/or not show me things I have already watched.  I don't like the new YouTube.  Mostly because it is a pain in the butt to get a list of videos uploaded by the channels I have subscribed to without it being all cluttered with crap about similar stuff, and who liked what and blah blah blah.... Why does everything need to be so complicated?  I am not on YouTube to social network, I am there to watch videos by people I like.  Get the rest of that crap outta my face! Not every website has to compete with Facebook for lamest social network in the world.

The recommended videos thing brings up another interesting and disturbing point about the current internet culture.  It is quiet and insidious, but targeted personalizing of websites is kinda scary.  On the face of it, it can be kind of useful, especially in Google searches.  I mean, I love it when I go to google and start typing my search terms just to have them figure out what I want and fill it in.  It is also cool when the page I want is always on the first page of results.  However what is not cool is that it is leaving all kinds of stuff out. When I am searching for pictures of kittens, or the TARDIS, or whatever stupid thing it is,  this is handy.  However when I am searching for stuff with real world application, this is not so helpful.  Example!

A couple of years ago two guys in New York both did a google search for "Egypt".  One was a newsie, and the other guy was a travel dude.  The travel dude's search results returned travel agencies, tourist info and general "Things to see and do and buy in Egypt!!"  type links.  The newsie got articles about the riots and upheaval that was going on at the time.  The implications of that are kind of scary.  Imagine what kind of filter is being applied to political articles, news sites, commentaries and anything from the world outside of your little bubble.
(actual details and more information about the filter bubble can be found in this Ted Talk that I am too lazy too rewatch.)

Also, Facebook filters out friends you don't interact with, assuming that you are not interested in what they have to say.  I"m not sure if they are still going crazy with this now that you can adjust how much or how little a certain person will show up in your feed, but I'm sure they are still doing something like it.

I want to know what is going on in the world.  I want to know what people who are not exactly like me have to say.  I don't want to see the world through a filter of literature, sci fi/fantasy nerdiness, liberalism, Canada and parenthood.  There is more to the world than that, and more to me. I might want to EXPAND my hobbies and world view, and have no idea where to start.  Sure, I might not want to read what some hardcore conservative ass has to say, but if I am not allowed to filter them out for myself, how will I ever know if they make good points?

I appreciate the attempt to tailor my internet experience to my interests, but the great thing about the internet is that it contains every interest.  The filter itself isn't such a terrible idea, but the fact that it is implemented automatically and without letting people know is just not cool. I think you should be informed, and have to opt in.  That way, the idiots who are too clueless to change settings will have to deal with seeing the unfiltered internet.  Maybe they would learn something.  Like how to adjust their privacy settings.

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