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 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.
- 5 Questions with Eli Pariser, Author of ‘The Filter Bubble’ (techland.time.com)
- Beware online “filter bubbles”: Eli Pariser on TED.com (ted.com)
- “Book Review: The Filter Bubble by Eli Pariser” and related posts (rundpinne.com)