Week 4 Jamie Schwarz

I found the Pariser chapters to be extremely interesting to read because it helped timeline the growth of using algorithms for search engines. From Amazon to Google and then Facebook, it became evident that these algorithms could change the way that the public uses the internet and businesses capitalize on it. Chapter one included a quote about the aim of Facebook saying that it was attempting to “make the whole Web “social” and bring Facebook-style personalization to millions of sites that currently lack it.” The ability to tell the consumer that this is what they like and then these are things that they probably would (or should) like too is absolutely revolutionary and was unthinkable at the start of the internet.

It is a bit scary to me that the internet knows who my friends are and what links I frequently check in order to provide me with different options of things to look at, but I can appreciate the idea behind it and the pure genius. Pariser also talks about The You Loop which is basically how amazing it is that the internet can be personalized to show you things that are of interest to you. The main issue with this is that you could be potentially missing out on information that you would value but was practically censored because of what a computer chose.

Morozov made many interesting points, but the one that I want to highlight is about how people are less interested in politics because they are distracted by their “gadgets” or whatnot. “While we thought the Internet might give us a generation of ‘digital renegades,’ it may have given us a generation of ‘digital captives,’ who know how to find comfort online, whatever the political realities of the physical world. For these captives, online entertainment seems to be a much stronger attractor than reports documenting human rights abuses by their own governments.” I would like to hope that this isn’t the case, but it truly intrigues me that my generation appears to be given this enormous gift and we have done nothing but use it the wrong way.

The question I pose is:

Is sacrificing our right to choose what information we see on the internet because of search engines like Google worth it? Would you rather have to search through every single possible online document yourself?

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7 Responses to Week 4 Jamie Schwarz

  1. emilythibodeau says:

    I believe the ease of use search engines like Google provide is worth the loss of choice forced by these engines. It would be simply too cumbersome to navigate the internet without the biased results of Google. Despite the potential limits to results on search engines, without their capabilities, I think most people would be far more limited to sites they are familiar with, such as Facebook or their email, instead of finding new sources of information, knowledge and entertainment. Additionally, there are many search engines to turn to in situations where some of the sponsored results from Google, for example, appear limiting or are not yielding the answers someone is searching for.

  2. sargwa1 says:

    I also believe that sacrificing our right to choose what information we see is worth it. Search engines make it possible for us to view the most relevant information to us based on our search a majority of the time. Without the results given to us by search engines such as Google, time and energy would be lost in an effort to find what we are specifically looking for within all the information available to us online. Search engines such as Google, with the exception of paid advertisement/sponsored links, do their best to give results that are most relevant and match the most closely to the search inquiry. By doing this, users are exposed to a variety of websites that feature the information about the search and could use these sources for future references.

  3. taylorkdavis says:

    Not only does Google track every search you ever make, it also can connect all accounts including gmail, youtube, picasa, google docs, etc together and put it back to your particular IP address and screen name. In addition, it is stored in many different server locations therefore your data has a small chance of being deleted. In addition, even when not logged into Facebook it leaves cookies on your computers and can collect data bits to see what other things you are looking at. Every website with a like button also has the ability to track what users are doing. Esentially, those sites are giant databases of peoples public and private information. The question I ask is who has the right to view that information. There are no laws really regarding the companies collecting data and selling it off to other companies. For example, does the government have the right to see what we are searching for the common good of the US or is that an invasion of our privacy and amendment rights? I guess to answer your question, no I do not want to go out into the Internet and individually search for documents, but on the other hand I do not want Google and Facebook tracking my every search. No longer are our searches anonymous, but rather collected in great quantaties and tied back ot the searcher.

  4. lmelamed says:

    Although it is scary to believe that Facebook and Google can track every search ( whether we would like it to be private or not) and attain important, non-public information through using their search engines and actively using it, I know personally that I would not like to go through thousands and thousands of documents a day to research particular information. Despite the fact that such sites have become extremely invasive and can easily acquiring personal information on us, it is up to WE as users what we want to be published on or not. For example, when I upload photos on Facebook for my friends to see, I most definitely do not put up incriminating photos that may get a couple laughs, but have longer repercussions in the end. What may seem as meaningless pictures and comments can actually ruin people’s reputations with only a click of a post button. We as users on such social networking sites and search engines need to know from an early age what is appropriate to display on our personal pages and what is not. Does it really matter for you to have a picture on your Facebook of you doing a keg stand that looks really funny, but will potentially prevent you from getting a job in the future because potential employers can view them? I didn’t think so.

  5. benjhalp says:

    I found your blog post to be very interesting. I particularly found it intriguing in your comparison of two common fears with the Internet, as they were presented in the two books. Although I acknowledge the inherent fear that exists with the almost intrusive nature in which sites like Google or Facebook personalize their sites to what can be considered an almost scary extent. What is especially notable is Google’s tracking of the subject matter of its members’ emails in order to alter the advertisements that show up on the side of the screen. However, in my mind, the research and personalization done by sites such as Google would do more good. Such actions are an attempt to better the Internet experience for us. Such processes should make our lives easier, not induce paranoia. The searches become more suited to us. In fact, I think they have been helpful. So helpful, that I understand the benefit of my searches being tracked. Without assisted searching, the Internet as we are used to it, would change. Its astonishing convenience would diminish if we had to complete searches completely by ourselves, as your question would indicate. This idea brings me to my next point, regarding Internet participation and your response to Morozov’s writing.

    I also enjoyed your reflection on Morozov’s point regarding how the Internet has been used. You discuss how Morozov states that many users might be too caught up by their “gadgets” on the Internet. Such an idea brings me back to something that has been previously discussed in class and in blog posts. The newer model of mass participation: where asking for and receiving minimal participation from a large group and getting a lot effort from a smaller, dedicated group. I feel like Morozov’s ideas of the two types of users, the “renegades” and the “captives” is very similar to the argument regarding mass participation. With a highly advanced personalized Internet, people will take advantage of it to be informed, or they will use the vast resources solely in ways that are not beneficial to society as a whole. Although many will not bother to minimally participate, others will; and the amount that will participate is likely more than there would without a highly convenient Internet.

  6. karensaukas says:

    I really enjoyed your post because I asked a similar question in mine. I think that personalization can help a lot with sorting through everything that is out there on the web, but at the same time it puts an extreme limit on what we see when we use the Internet. After contemplating whether I would like to see it all or see my own personal view, I think I would choose to see it all. I hate the idea that personalization gives me a limited to view to what is happening around the world and closes me off from events that don’t effect my everyday life. I would rather have too much information than not enough. I know that if I truly cared about world issue I could always seek them out, but I feel that the internet should guide citizens to do this as well, instead of just provide them closed off worlds that expose them to people and things that are similar to how they already are.

  7. sammoon724 says:

    It probably is worth it soley because the internet is so vast now that it would otherwise be impossible to find relevant documents. I asked a simiar question in my post too. The only compromise I can think of is having personalization tools FOR the personalization of the internet.Websites like stumbleupon already link you to articles that might interest you based off your preferences. However, for the internet to truly be personalized and tailored to the user, there has to be tracking cookies so your computer can learn who you truly are in an unobtrusive fashion. You can’t just “choose” things that interest you for google searches because you could just be lying to yourself and thus choose irrelevant topics/links. My solution is this: Let your browser (or companies like BlueKai and Acxiom) show you topics of interest that your computer’s cookies have tracked and be able to remove ones that don’t really interest you and are irrelevant. This gives you the peace of mind knowing what the “BigBrother” companies know (Aka sell) about you, and still gives you a personalized internet browsing experience.
    -Sam

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