Tag Archives: Web 2.0

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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Web Squared: Web 2.0 Five Years On

With under a week remaining in the course I have finally grasped the true concept of what Web 2.0 really is. Highlighted text in blue lettering on the first page of Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle’sWeb Squared: Web 2.0 Five Years Onexplains, “Web 2.0 is all about harnessing collective intelligence.” The most simple explanation I have seen to date, yet also the most logical and easy to understand. Today’s blog entry will examine how Web 2.0 focuses on collective intelligence and how all of these rapid changes will affect us as users. Before understanding Web 2.0 and the importance of collective intelligence, we must first examine collective intelligence.

Collective intelligence, arguably the main goal and fuel of Web 2.0 is defined as, “a shared or group intelligence that emerges from the collaboration and competition of many individuals.” For the World Wide Web, such a definition seems very fitting. As a person who has only been on the internet for a few years, personally I don’t believe I ever truly experienced the web before Web 2.0. Unfortunately for me, this makes it difficult to understand how the Internet looked and functionned prior to Web 2.0. Interestingly, the definition is somewhat similar to that of socialism, “a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.” As both the definitions of collective intelligence and socialism stress, the final outcome is based entirely on the use of the community. In the case of Web 2.0, O’Reilly explains, “data is being collected, presented and acted upon in real time… participation has increased by orders of magnitude.” Without the support of the numerous users, Web 2.0 would likely fall apart just as socialism would if part of the community did not handle ownership and control correctly. As Web 2.0 has shown, websites which are focused on “harnessing collective intelligence” will thrive. Facebook, Twitter and Youtube are prime examples of sites which harness collective intelligence. A user uploads information about themselves whether it be pictures, videos or short text inserts and in doing so adds to the enormous base of collective intelligence. The same user can click onto other users pages to view what they have uploaded, and the circle continues endlessly. The question I ask, is a serious one which could undermine Web 2.0 as a movement entirely. What if people begin to lose interest in sites like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube? What if users begin to understand that all of this collective intelligence is being used by advertisement firms, Google and the government? Then what is Web 2.0? Although it seems that users show no signs of stopping now, these questions are just a few to consider when thinking abuot how Web 2.0 affects us as users.

In the “gold old days” a user would have to sit on their chair in their living room, go to Google and type in a few words to search for something. As O’Reilly explains, “the Web [is] geting smart enough to understand some things without us having to tell it explicitly.” At first glance a process like this may seem extremely useful to a user, but taking a step back and considering the implications of functioning like this on a daily basis raises some scary questions. Is the Web making us less human? If we no longer need to think for ourselves, have we completely succumb to the power of technology? As Siva Vaidyanathan explains in The Googlization of Everything, people no longer need to remember phone number or address. What’s next, will soon humans not even need to remember names or images because they have become so absurdly reliant upon the Web? These are some extreme dangers that essentially could occur due to Web 2.0, but I doubt we will see such any time soon. On the positive side of things, Web 2.0 may be bringing users closer to Vaidynathan’s hypothetical Human Knowledge project. Due to the nature of the Web, users across the world can exchange nearly limitless amouns of information. The more the community works towards positive collaboration and innovation, the better Web 2.0 will be.

For those like myself who never really experienced Web 1.0, it is difficult to fathom just how big of a change and saviour Web 2.0 has been. Web 2.0 revitalized the Internet during a time when it needed it most. It has turned the internet into a collaborative community who can exchange information at the click of a button. It has helping politicians, charities and many other types of real world issues. Like anything, too much of Web 2.0 will have negative reprucussions. As users must understand this and not let the Web turn us into robots. Insead, we should try our best to fulfill Siva Vaidynathan’s dream of The Human Knowledge Project. Web 2.0 really urges the user to question, what has the Web become? Users should also be asking themselves…

What Have We Turned Into?

– Ian McDougald

Photo:  http://www.catehuston.com/blog/2009/10/29/how-web-2-0-is-changing-the-way-we-communicate/

Works Cited

O’Reilly, Tim, and John Battelle. “Web Squared: Web 2.0 Five Years On.” O’Reilly Media, Inc. Web. 31 Mar. 2012. http://assets.en.oreilly.com/1/event/28/web2009_websquared-whitepaper.pdf.

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

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