Sunday, May 15, 2011

Filter Bubbles

Bubbles are great - if you're taking a bath. But if you're highly leveraged in the stock market, or are in the business of flipping homes, then bubbles can be dangerous things (as we've all recently learned). In the TED video below, Eli Pariser (founder of MoveOn) talks about another type of dangerous bubble - the Filter Bubble.

You see, even the mighty Long Tail has a downside. While Netflix, Amazon, Google, and countless other web services cater to an individual's tastes, those tastes are never challenged. Netflix doesn't present you with "films you'll probably hate" when you look for your next movie, and Amazon probably won't suggest a different book with the note that "users who bought this book found the following volumes challenging to their worldview." As a result, it's possible to live an online life without ever having to encounter information which doesn't fit into our predetermined narrative schema, and this might already be having real affects on our democratic discourse.

Here's Pariser's TED talk:


  1. That was quite enjoyable... but now I'm nervous about the future.

  2. Hey-

    That was very interesting. I am interested in the search result tailoring-- seems especially problematic. In a simple experiment-- I googled for "egypt" (from my work computer, with three different browsers). The search results were identical on all three. Only two of those do I regularly use, so I wondered it the IE results would be more generic or something. Not the case-- all the same. Any other experiences?