Eli Pariser‘s new book The Filter Bubble warns that for all the boundless information available to us on the Interwebs, we’re actually doing ourselves an intellectual — and sometimes social — disservice by taking advantage of new technology. His theme revolves around that fact that personalization of web experiences delivers a more homogenous set of information to us, preventing the expansion of our minds and world views that result from encountering diverse people, news, resources and information.

Pariser essentially thinks the Facebook- and Google-led push to deliver more relevant web experiences is dangerous. Put nothing but conservative dogma in front of you all day and your per view never considers potentially enlightening views from the other side of the aisle. Being delivered silly videos and naked women content based on your web behavior filters out information about wars and economic situations that might be critical to you contributing to society differently.

The Filter Bubble - Book CoverThe cautionary tale offered in The Filter Bubble is well argued, documented and includes ideas on how we as individuals and companies can work to keep perspective in our online experiences. It runs right up to the line of making the reader paranoid that Google, Facebook and the government will one day try to control our minds, but leaves an aftertaste that you shouldn’t be all that comfortable with the handful of companies behind what you do online.

And perhaps we shouldn’t be.

Frankly, I could have told you all that above after reading the introduction to the book. Pariser’s opening essay sums up the issue quite nicely. But I couldn’t put the book down because the rest dives head first into how and why personalization isn’t the best idea since the wireless mouse.

This book will make you see the web, Facebook, Google and marketing in a different light. It smells slightly of political propaganda, but not enough to make you roll your eyes. Pariser is smart and a bit of a watch-dog personality, having been the executive director of MoveOn.org. He exhibits both the intellect and the good-looking-out qualities in the work, which is well worth the price of admission.

The Filter Bubble (the book) will make you smarter and a more savvy web user. The actual Filter Bubble, it seems, will not.

You can buy The Filter Bubble on Amazon.com (affiliate link) and learn more about the concept at TheFilterBubble.com.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://www.ivanwalsh.com Ivan Walsh

    Hi Jason,

    I feel the paradox here is that those who value their time, i.e.
    use Social Media & web selectively, don’t really need this book (I know,
    always room for improvement ;) ), whereas those who don’t… are hardly going to
    pick it up.

    Maybe I’m wrong.

    Ivan

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      I would disagree slightly. While I see where you’re going, I think we all
      need to be aware of the factors at play in selecting the data we see. Either
      ads, news, friend suggestions, etc. … even with cursory web use, these
      filters personalize, but also partially obstruct our view of the world.
      Awareness is not bad, so I’d encourage anyone to read it. It’s at least
      fascinating to know.

  • http://www.ivanwalsh.com Ivan Walsh

    Hi Jason,

    I feel the paradox here is that those who value their time, i.e.
    use Social Media & web selectively, don’t really need this book (I know,
    always room for improvement ;) ), whereas those who don’t… are hardly going to
    pick it up.

    Maybe I’m wrong.

    Ivan

  • Canvas8

    Hi,

    For all those who will be in London on the 21st of June, we’re hosting an event with Eli Pariser. ‘By chance or by design? Serendipity and the internet’ will also feature the CEO of StreetSpark and will explore the theme of personalisation, filters and serendipity online. 

    Free ticket registration is here – http://canvas8june21.eventbrite.com/

    Thanks,
    Canvas8
     

  • http://mediaemerging.com Scott Hepburn

    Thanks for the heads up on this book. I’ve been thinking about this for a while. I agree (it sounds like) with Eli that “relevant” content is a dangerous concept. It’s a too-narrow gap between “relevant” and “like-minded.” Content that confirms or reinforces our beliefs has its place, but is best when balanced by information that challenges our beliefs or forces us to think differently.

    Of course, I’m only interested in this book because it confirms something I already suspected ;)

  • http://twitter.com/Collectual Collective Intellect

    One of our execs found this TED video, as well, and we came to very similar conclusions. We all wondered if the type of social and text analytics we do might become more important to people wanting to do a search that surfaces anything relevant. I suspect only for a few because the convenience and quickness of these tailored search results are easy to get and what we’re becoming accustomed to. And really how do you know what you’re missing.

    We wrote a blog post about it that I hope you don’t mind if I reference http://bit.ly/luCAMs
    Thanks again for sharing!

  • http://twitter.com/kateo Kate O’Neill

    Your readers may also be interested, if you don’t mind me linking, to an article I wrote about “filter bubbles” for CMO.com: http://www.cmo.com/optimization/narcissism-personalizations-flip-side

  • http://twitter.com/kateo Kate O’Neill

    Your readers may also be interested, if you don’t mind me linking, to an article I wrote about “filter bubbles” for CMO.com: http://www.cmo.com/optimization/narcissism-personalizations-flip-side

  • Roger Draper

    How ironic that somebody out of MoveOn.org would be advocating breadth of perspective.  I have to LOL whenever these folks ridicule the “FoxNews mentality”.  The hard Left is every bit as lockstep-minded as the Right. Neither one wants to be confused by facts that don’t support their views; neither one reserves the right to be smarter tomorrow than they were today.  Critical thinkers?  Hardly.

  • http://backlinkstechniques.info Tikyd

    I don’t recall thinking about personalization in this context. In a way, I agree with you that seeing only one aspect of the reality is not necessarily the best thing. However, I don’t know if Google is capable of completing blocking sources of content that have not been favored by a user.
    Moreover, people share information via email for example. I think that as long as a person is in touch with other people with different interest, he/she might not be completely out of a “reality” google is not showing.

  • http://heathertlc.wordpress.com/ Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours

    The entire idea makes sense from a marketer’s perspective but is downright creepy from a consumer standpoint.

    Thanks for being a part of the book tour.

  • http://heathertlc.wordpress.com/ Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours

    The entire idea makes sense from a marketer’s perspective but is downright creepy from a consumer standpoint.

    Thanks for being a part of the book tour.

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