Week 4

I took special notice of Pariser’s description of push versus pull content. The pull content of the internet allows for more discretion of the user to decide what to view, but he makes an interesting claim that with the trend of personalization, this content is tailored to our needs and our desire for “unobjectionably entertained” leads to the internet incorporating a push structure. This is the essence of the filter bubble, that by personalization we haven’t eliminated the middleman, but have included new versions of such that can provide us with a vaster corpus of material which is relevant to our wants but the decision of what information we see still occurs. Pariser makes a good point when he notes that this personalization is almost needed, because there is so much information available, we need some way of parsing through it efficiently and our tendency is to do so in a way that reflects our personal preferences.

The system has not been totally replaced, which is illustrated by blogs and institutions such as Google News’ reliance on newspaper editors to still provide them with the stories. We have a tendency to become complacent with the information that we are consuming as long as it is providing us with some positive utility. Because of this, we will search out information and as time continues, the sources that we actively search out will narrow and the stream of information will be somewhat homogeneous, yet still different than material based on general interest.

Pariser also notes a fear that with this system of information gathering, it is possible to skip over material that might not be of interest but that is relevant to us as a citizen. In a newspaper we might skip over the political section, but we would still engage in the act of seeing the headline and noting the latest scandal that might affect how we have to vote. This is not necessarily so with the internet. I would argue against this fear to an extent. An unlikely story can proliferate and oftentimes cross through many genres or bubbles. Like the example in the beginning of Skirky’s book with the lost cell phone, it made it to CNN and Reddit, proliferating the political junkies and those who actively ignore it.

Do you think that our filter bubbles might negatively affect citizen responsibility of knowledge?

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1 Response to Week 4

  1. arlaurin says:

    I believe it can affect citizen responsibility of knowledge, but as we said in class today, we will never truly know because we do not know how we would be if we did not have the internet. Overall, the US is VERY uninformed. But, this has been the case for quite some time. When compared to other countries, we are ranked low for the amount of knowledge our citizens have. (This is based on my “Public Opinion” political science class last semester).

    Would we still be reading the newspapers if we did not have the internet? Who knows. I used to read the newspaper before school with my dad each morning when I was younger. But, I sought out the stories about health, movies, fashion, etc. I would like to think I may have changed to looking at other stories in the paper about things that I should know to be an informed citizen, but there are no guarantees.

    Fortunately, but unfortunately, we skip over so much on the internet due to the filtering features of Google that Pariser mentions. This filtering is just like we can do ourselves when looking at a newspaper even.

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