Tag Archives: google

Eli Pariser: Beware Online “Filter Bubbles”

Filter bubbles are all around us. As Pariser mentions, Google, Facebook, Yahoo and many more of the monopolistic internet giants are using filter bubbles. So will the “algorithmic gatekeepers” of the web begin to remove filter bubbles? Doubtful. Today’s blog entry will examine how filter bubbles affect us as users, why filter bubbles are used by companies and conclude why it is extremely unlikely that they will be disappearing from the web anytime soon. The problem presented by filter bubbles is that “if I search for something and you search for something… we may get very different search results.” Users don’t realize their searches and news feeds are any different from another user.

Although many people don’t realize they are affected by filter bubble, it is important to understand how they can influence Internet users. In one example Pariser describes that “the conservatives had disappeared from [his] Facebook feed”. This is a perfect example of how filter bubbles can affect someone who is only using Facebook. For instance, say a user on Facebook often clicks links about the sport of hockey or converses more often with a group of friends who have a common interest in hockey. This users news feed and recommended friends will began to become focused on others who have interest in hockey, instead of basketball or other sports. At the very elementary level such an example may appear harmless, and even convenient that common people are becoming connected. But doesn’t this belittle us as social beings online? Instead of meeting new people with different interests and different ideas, we are being shown only to similar beings with similar interests. Personally, as a Facebook user and a social being, I find it much more interesting to learn about a new sport, culture or technology than to speak to someone about something with which I am extremely familiar with. The same idea can be applied to news, and as Pariser explains, users should be exposed to topics which are important, uncomfortable, challenging or even opposing, instead of only relevant. So if filter bubbles are considered to have such negative impact on users of Facebook and Google, why do these companies utilize them?

As with many companies, when keeping, what some users like Eli Pariser would consider, a negative aspect of a product their is one goal in mind. Profit. Google, Facebook, Yahoo and any other websites who are using filter bubbles are no different. The reason these companies likely enjoy filtering and personalizing what a user sees is because it allows for easy advertisement. If a users interests can be acquired based on how she speaks with friends or how she searches, the same interests can be applied to offer advertisements to the user. This type of advertising is called targeting advertising and is vaguely defined as: “advertising whereby advertisements are placed so as to reach consumer based on various traits such as demographics, purchase history, or observed behavior.” For example, if a user is watching a hockey game on television she may see an advertisement about Tide laundry detergent which she has no interest in. On her Facebook page, an advertisement for Bauer Hockey Skates may appear based on the filter bubbles that have been created. In the end, this type of advertising works extremely well for the companies because they already know that they can target advertisements based on a users interests. The user doesn’t complain either because the advertisements which they are presented with remain relevant to their interests and they are then more likely to purchase the product. It is for this exact reason that filter bubbles will remain on the web for years to come.

Unfortunately, the truth is, as helpful as Facebook, Google and Yahoo are to us as users, they exist primarily as corporations whose main goal is to gain profit. This thought is key, because this means that user friendliness comes second to profit. Filter bubbles is a prime example of this. Instead of creating the best possible experience for the user, filter bubbles create a unique and simple way to raise profit. Unless in the future a serious economic change occurs the Internet will likely only become more personalized and more filtered (if even possible). Corporations will do whatever they can to maximize profit, and do just enough to keep users happy enough to pay the big bucks. Once again we must ask ourselves… What has the Internet turned into? More importantly…

What Have We Turned Into?

– Ian McDougald

Photo: http://www.43pixels.com/index.php/2011/05/18/video-beware-online-filter-bubbles/

Works Cited

Beware Online “Filter Bubbles” By Eli Pariser. Perf. Eli Pariser. YouTube.com. YouTube, LLC, 2 May 2011. Web. 1 Apr. 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8ofWFx525s&gt;.

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The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet

As a heavy user of both the Internet and the Web, it is surprising to think that until I read Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff’s article, The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet I considered the two words synonymous. As the article explains, the two words are extremely different on numerous levels. Today’s blog entry will examine the key differences between the Internet and the Web, the different uses for both and have each of this platforms will look in and affect the future. To fully understand the article and this blog, we must begin by defining the two terms which will be frequently used, the Internet and the Web.

As defined by Google, the Internet is “A global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities, consisting of interconnected networks using standardized communication protocols.” At first thought, one may think the same definition would fit for the Web. When thinking of this definition, one must remember Web really stands for World Wide Web and as Princeton University explains, a “computer network consisting of a collection of internet sites that offer text and graphics and sound and animation resources through the hypertext transfer protocol.” After understanding these definitions, the difference between the two words becomes slightly more obvious. After all, the definition of the Web itself uses the word Internet right in it which should say something to readers. From this, and the idea presented by Anderson and Wolff that, “one [can] spen[d] the day on the Internet — but not on the Web”, we can conclude that the Internet can function without the Web, but the Web cannot without the Internet. The Internet and the Web can be compared to a battery and an iPod. The Internet represents the battery, which can exist on its own and has power to run other devices. The Web on the other hand, should be considered as the iPod, which runs on a battery (Internet) because without the power the battery offers, the iPod cannot function. This is the idea Anderson and Wolff were hoping to instill on readers when they commented on apps like Xbox Live, Netflix and Skype.

So now that we understand the difference between the Internet and the Web, we must ask ourselves what are the respective uses for both platforms? We will begin by examining that which is considered “dead” by Anderson and Wolff, the Web. Using the Web means physically sitting on your computer, using a browser such as Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox. As Anderson and Wolff explain, HTML is the dominant programming language for the Web, which is not the case for the Internet. Some daily tasks that could be accomplished using the Web might include posting on a Wiki or researching information. Since the Web is considered open, the idea is to access numerous websites easily. Recently, a statistic has shown that users are no longer accessing a big number of sites and instead, “the top 10 Web sites accounted for… about 75 percent [of pageviews] in 2010.” It is statistics like this that allow the Internet to prosper. The biggest website ever is Facebook, with over 500 million people connected to the social network. The reason the Internet is slowly killing the Web is because more and more users are accessing sites like Facebook through their “bedside iPads” or mobile phones. Using Facebook is only one the apps a user of the Internet can take part in. As Anderson and Wolff mention: Xbox Live, Skype, Twitter and Pandora are only a handful of the available options a user can indulge in without every accessing the World Wide Web. There is no doubt that the Internet and the Web have changed drastically, but how will these platforms look in and affect our future?

As Anderson and Wolff predict, the Web will likely die in the future. The pair point to a hypothesis by Morgan Stanley that suggests, “the number of users accessing the Net from mobile devices will surpass the number who access it from PCs… within five years.” Assuming Stanley’s assertion is true, the Web will certainly die. With that said, ridding the world of the personal computer will be difficult due to game likes World of Warcraft and League of Legends. The two games, which require a personal computer to play, cannot be played on handheld devices. The two games alone have a combined total of about twelve million players. For the personal computer to be completely abolished, games like this will somehow have to be moved to handheld devices, which will be no easy task. Like when most outdated forms of technology die, lovers of the old technology will attempt to keep it running only forcing a slow and extremely painful death. The death of the Web seems inevitable with companies like Apple quarterly reporting mobile phone sales in the double digit millions. Although the Web may have made the Internet popular, the Internet shows no signs of slowing. With sites like Facebook or Twitter and applications like Xbox Live or Pandora fuelling the Internet through handheld devices the popularity of the Internet on handheld devices will only grow.

For the majority of users, losing the Web won’t be a terrible loss. A person like myself who has a general love for my personal computer and plays World of Warcraft and League of Legends will have serious problems parting with their computer. Unfortunately, it seems inevitable that one day this will occur. More and more people are accessing the Internet through “the screen that comes to them” which is slowly killing the Web and drastically changing the idea of computing as a whole. As for Stanley’s prediction of five years, I believe (and hope) it takes longer than this for the personal computer to be abolished, but only time will tell. In times of drastic change like this one can only ask questions. What has technology become? What will come next? And of course…

What Have We Turned Into?

– Ian McDougald

Photo: http://mywindowshelp.com/2011/windows-help-for-network-errors/

Works Cited

Anderson, Chris, and Michael Wolff. “The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet.”Wired.com. Conde Nast Digital, 17 Aug. 2010. Web. 30 Mar. 2012. <http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/08/ff_webrip/all/1&gt;.

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The Googlization of Memory and Higher Education

“Information, once rare and cherished like caviar, is now plentiful and taken for granted like potatoes” (Vaidhyanathan, 175).

David Shenk, the original author of such quote (Shenk, 9), embodies the problem and the best quality of Google in one simple sentence. Google is possibly the greatest database of information ever. Millions upon millions of Webpages of information become available in often under one second. While some may consider this convenient or even an excellent way to receive information, have “Googlers” began to treat information like Shenk’s hypothetical potatoes? This blog will examine how information, and how it is received has changed, specifically focusing on memory, education and research.

In some ways it is nice to think that Google is always going to be there for people. It is very helpful of course, when one must quickly identify the address of a restaurant for example, or a phone number for that restaurant. The fact that Google can now essentially be carried everywhere with a person through tablets and smart-phones may seem even more convenient, but is this simple accessibility a fair trade for our once cherished memory? Like Vaidhyanathan, many people have trouble remembering little things like phone numbers. To think that Google has nothing to do with that is preposterous. In the past, people would read books, newspapers, fliers etc. and receiving information this way helped build their memory. Tasks like this took time and focus, Googling a small phrase to get the same result does not. As a race, humans have wired their brains to receive information quickly and retain very little. Google is at the forefront of this problem because they have convinced users that Google will always be there for them whenever and wherever they are. The same problem is occurring in the education system, where students are turning to Google more often then their classrooms.

Many people believe they can learn very much from Google. “Learning by definition is an encounter with that you don’t know, what you haven’t thought of, what you couldn’t conceive, and what you never understood or entertained as possible” (Vaidhyanathan, 182). Under this definition provided by Vaidhyanathan, it would appear that users of Google aren’t really learning much at all. This is because in recent years, Google has focused on “personalizing” searches based on a users Google history (Vaidhyanathan, 183). So really, if a user is seeking knowledge, they are never really receiving something they completely “don’t know” or “haven’t thought of” because the results of their search will be tailored to the user based on their past searches. For example, if I was to search, “The Human Genome Project”, my results would be tailored based on my past searches of “The Human Knowledge Project” and “The Googlization of Everything.” Arguments such as this can only make one agree with Vaidhyanathan’s criticism of Jeff Jarvis, who suggested that “higher education follow the contours of Google” (Vaidhyanathan, 184). Jarvis argues that higher education research should be more “collaborative and open” (Vaidhyanathan, 184), but how would this be possible when each students research would be different based on their past searches? In response, Vaidhyanathan points out an ironic point; Google actually appears to be more like a university than a corporate information database (Vaidhyanathan, 186). Instead it almost appears that Google is following the ways of a university instead of the opposite that Jarvis recommends.

 Arguably two of the most important things in professional human life, memory and higher education have been dramatically influenced and changed by Google. Our memory may never be the same thanks to Google, which has rewired our brains to expect information quickly. Higher education will never be the same, more and more students will turn to Google and services like Google Scholar instead of divulging into the massive collection of texts which possess a nearly endless amount of information. Instead of attending classes students will instead attempt to Google their way through university and college, and unfortunately sometimes it may work. One can only hope that Jeff Jarvis’ “Google School” will never exist, but at the pace we’re travelling at now, it wouldn’t be a major surprise.

Google and it’s information have changed our memory, higher education and more. It really makes one wonder…

What Have We Turned Into?

– Ian McDougald

Photo: http://www.impactlab.net/2012/01/25/internet-is-our-main-source-of-memory-instead-of-our-own-brains/

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Works Cited

Shenk, David. Data Smog: Surviving the Information Glut. San Francisco, CA: Harper Edge, 1997. Print.

Vaidhyanathan, Siva. The Googlization of Everything: (And Why We Should Worry). Berkeley: University of California, 2011. Print.

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