Will Roney

Book Review – The Filter Bubble by Eli Pariser

In Non-Fiction Writing on June 23, 2011 at 14:57

The Filter Bubble: What The Internet Is Hiding From You

It is human nature to explore; to seek out knowledge from previously unknown places in order that the mind is extended for many purposes. It might be to complete a piece of work, or purely for entertainment. The problem has always been how to get to all that information.

Previously information was the preserve of the rich and well connected. But as we witness the dawn of the power of the internet, we are riding the wave of a data deluge that will only increase as time goes on. This presents a problem for us poor humans. How do we process all of this, at the same time as trying to find all of this stuff out?

The answer is search engines, and one of the most, if not the most popular one at the moment is Google. However, the problem with Google is that the answers that you get are specific to you. The algorithms that Google has developed, and the policies that they have mean that they take personal information such as location, employment status and age and change the results to suit those pieces of data.

Eli Pariser has written an eye-opening book “The Filter Bubble” about the ways that Google and Facebook are using the trade in data and internet filtering to feed you up to the advertisers, who try and sell you stuff within your sphere of desire.

The implications of filtering are two-fold. Firstly, it reinforces the trade in personal data. Every time you make a comment on a forum, update a status on Facebook or conduct a search on Google, these results are collected and then sold on. This is why you get targeted adverts on your Facebook page, from advertisers thinking that you’ll want their product based on a set of questions you never knew you answered.

The second implication of this policy is that paradoxically, the internet is slowly closing off to us. To begin with the Internet was a place where you could discover anything, be it a new species in Madagascar to the latest medical techniques. Similar to the Amazon technique of ‘suggestions’, we are slowly being controlled in a cage of our own likes; the opportunities to seek out new information is getting harder and harder.

It is bad enough that we have to wade through pages of search results in the first place. It is difficult enough now knowing that the results themselves are biased. Humans evolve by filtering out themselves what they like and what they don’t. Google have taken this role out of our hands and there is a danger that we are being forced up a cultural cul-de-sac.

The Filter Bubble is an important book as it marks the point at which our destinies were sold. The irony of all of this, is that we provide the information to Google and to Facebook, so we have only ourselves to blame.

Read this book, you will not be sorry.

Have you enjoyed this review? If you have, click through and buy the book HERE!

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