The two readings for this week have much to say about media and its impacts on our lives. In chapter two of “The Filter Bubble” Eli Pariser outlines the new Internet developments brought about by the brilliant minds of Jeff Bezos, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and Mark Zuckerburg, who created Amazon, Google, and Facebook respectively. Not only are these sites highly successful in today’s media saturated world, they also pioneered techniques like click signals and personalized algorithms that helped them become successful and that are still being used today. Pariser then goes on to detail the work of companies like Acxiom and TargusInfo that gather information based on our web activity in order to sell this information to companies who can then target us with very specifically tailored advertisements (a practice I have noticed numerous times while web browsing).
In sharp contrast to this ultra developed and streamlined web advertising method that is common practice in Western societies today, Evgeny Morozov writes about television and its impacts on Eastern countries like Russia and Germany, whose first exposure to Western media was through soft news shows and mindless episodic television like Dallas and Sesame Street. Morozov states that in Eastern Germany, the introduction of this media to citizens made them more passive under their authoritarian government and less likely to become involved in any radical political movements. So here we have too very different effects of media. While the personalized targeting practices of our Internet are used as an attempt to incite Internet users into some kind of action (that action usually being to purchase a product) the television shows in places like Eastern Germany are used to sort of lure citizens into a state of apolitical lethargy as a result of overexposure to “fluff” entertainment. This is a frightening realization that points to how media/the Internet’s increased role in our lives has allowed corporations to gain unprecedented insight into our daily lives and even possibly allowed governments to control us in a way.
So, my question to my classmates is what do you use the Internet for besides entertainment and information? Would you say that you are reliant on the Internet to the point that it is affecting some aspect of your life. And did Pariser’s insight into companies like Acxiom and their information about our lives surprise or frighten you?