Juan Fuentes Martin

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Might the Filter Bubbles Effect be an ethics-free solution fot the Paradox of Choice?

I could write a huge text, but I'd rather leave the debate open: just watch the two videos and let the brainstorm begin!

In my opinion, a filter is needed on the net. There's way too many information (Paradox of Choice), and as a result people are limiting their online surfing to the point where it never or hardly conflicts their beliefs. This Filter Bubbles Effect might not be the apropriate thing simply because it adds on this reactive filter that people seem to be (at least from my perspective) already applying in their day-to-day surfing. It only reinforces the reaction agains the paradox of choice.
I'm suggesting that these automated filters might be needed, even though I agree with Pariser when on his point that they should be controled by the user who should also be able to turn them off.

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    May 5 2011: Most information is useless to most people.
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    May 4 2011: Too many choices stymies production; lack of choice allows the powerful to take over. Such a choice!

    Maybe we humans are simply not smart enough to deal with all the information we disseminate. Or, we just haven't come up with a system to deal with it all in a fair manner.

    Hal! Where are you?
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    May 7 2011: Ok so on Google you can disable the filters. The thing is how many people know that or even realise that there is a filter. In many ways the filter will never harm those who know about it. As has been pointed out just be more specific in your searches. The issue really comes in when you don't realise there is a filter, or don't understand how it works, or how to get around it. Then you end up seeing the same thing over and over which could reinforce ideas and create a false sense of public opinion or reality.

    The other thing is if there is a filter in place how else could it be used or misused. A person, corporation or government could act as a benign dictator and filter Climate Change deniers out of the search results. Conversely they could act as an Evil Overlord and filter for good news and health stories about smoking. Who decides who the overlord is.

    In the end we need filtering and sometimes I even wish we had more, course then I decide I am being lazy and refine my google search. If we didn't have it we would all be staring at a computer screen unable to click, frozen by indecision and regretting the choice before its made.

    Maybe what we need is a anti-filter, backwards or random filter. Something that gives us at least a taste of what doesn't make it onto our front page. Just an extra tab at the side or a box at the bottom of the page. Maybe put the filter on that front page to. The Choice we need is over the choices we get and an easy way to do it.

    In the end its not just Google and Facebook or even Yahoo News. Its what comes after them or what they themselves are tomorrow.
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    May 5 2011: I just noticed something:
    If you click in "advanced search" in google, you can disable the filters. One of them, called SafeSearch (cos of course, a search can be so very darn dangerous) might be responsible for the Filter Bubbles Effect. In the particular case of Google, it can be switched off.
    So in my opinion, the system Google has implemented is very well designed:
    _it makes it easyer and more pleasent to surf the net on a day-to-day basis.
    _it allows you to access the "big stream of information" when you need it (ex: students, people who want to build a holistic view on a particular matter...)
    Couldn't Pariser take the time to check if the bug he critises has already been fixed?

    Still, the problem is not only found in google, but in the addition of the filters that many sites like Facebook are implementing...and the debate is of course wider than these particular cases!
    • May 13 2011: I believe SafeSearch filtering only applies to the filtering of adult content and not the type of filtering the talk discusses (i.e., deciding what results to display based on calculated desirability).
  • May 5 2011: I couldn't agree more! There is a need of filters due to the extensive amount of information out there, but everyone should be able to decide whether to filter or not, what to filter, where and even when. It might seam easier to let current algorithms to do their job, but who says they are doing a perfectly tailored job? Who should decide?