[Video/TED] Annals of the Robot Internet: Eli Pariser on Facebook and Google

I just watched this fascinating and slightly scary talk about what the Internet has become:

This is one of those things which I kind of knew about but never gave all that much thought. On the one hand, it’s pretty useful that I don’t have to manually sift through things I’m not interested in. On the other hand, an algorithm can’t always tell what I’m interested in, and even if it could, I like to think my interests change and I’d like to be able to see more of what’s going on and choose for myself.

Hmm.

What do you think?

2 thoughts on “[Video/TED] Annals of the Robot Internet: Eli Pariser on Facebook and Google”

  1. I would say it’s more than “slightly” scary, it’s alarming. I had no idea Google did that. I have always argued, though, that it’s important to read a serious daily newspaper and not just surf the web, precisely because it makes you at least passingly absorb information about the things you are NOT interested in and which are much easier to sift out on the internet. I am aware FB is doing weird things with my news feed but don’t know how to stop it.

    1. Well, “serious” newspapers aren’t necessarily the solution since they usually have other filters: they show you what some other people think is important rather than what algorithms expect you to want to see. But I’m not sure whether there really is a solution. There’s a very positive aspect to having algorithms pre-sort the information you read: there’s just too much information flowing around to sort it yourself. After carefully curating my reading list of blogs on Google Reader for years, I’m starting to abandon it because it’s become too much to actually follow. On Twitter at least I only see the stuff that’s flying around *right now* rather than collecting mountains of backlog reading. And Twitter doesn’t automatically pre-filter at all, but lets you select what sources to follow, just like Google Reader.
      Hmm.
      I think finding a balance between filtering out too much and seeing too much is going to become a major challenge of this decade (amongst some other major challenges, like a monetary system stretching to its logical limit, and peak oil.)