Pioneering online organizer Eli Pariser is the author of "The Filter Bubble," about how personalized search might be narrowing our worldview.
Shortly after the September 11, 2001, attacks, Eli Pariser created a website calling for a multilateral approach to fighting terrorism. In the following weeks, over half a million people from 192 countries signed on, and Pariser rather unexpectedly became an online organizer. The website merged with MoveOn.org in November 2001, and Pariser -- then 20 years old -- joined the group to direct its foreign policy campaigns. He led what the New York Times Magazine called the "mainstream arm of the peace movement" -- tripling MoveOn's member base and demonstrating how large numbers of small donations could be mobilized through online engagement.
In 2004, Pariser became executive director of MoveOn. Under his leadership, MoveOn.org Political Action has grown to 5 million members and raised over $120 million from millions of small donors to support advocacy campaigns and political candidates. Pariser focused MoveOn on online-to-offline organizing, developing phone-banking tools and precinct programs in 2004 and 2006 that laid the groundwork for Barack Obama's extraordinary web-powered campaign. In 2008, Pariser transitioned the Executive Director role at MoveOn to Justin Ruben and became President of MoveOn’s board; he's now a senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute.
His book The Filter Bubble is set for release May 12, 2011. In it, he asks how modern search tools -- the filter by which many of see the wider world -- are getting better and better and screening the wider world from us, by returning only the search results it "thinks" we want to see.
"When confronted with a list of results from Google, the average user (including myself until I read this article) tends to assume that the list is exhaustive. Not knowing that it isn't ... is equivalent to not having a choice. Depending on the quality of the search results, it can be said that I am being fed junk -- because I don't know I have other choices that Google filtered out."Aubrey Pek, commenting on Kim Zetter's "Junk Food Algorithms": http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2011/03/eli-pariser-at-ted
“Facebook was looking at which links I clicked on, and it was noticing that I was clicking more on my liberal friends’ links than on my conservative friends’ links. And without consulting me about it, it had edited them out. They disappeared.”
“In a broadcast society, there were these gatekeepers, the editors, and they controlled the flows of information. Along came the Internet and it swept them out of the way, and it allowed all of us to connect together, and it was awesome. But that’s not actually what’s happening right now.”
“The Internet is showing us what it thinks we want to see, but not necessarily what we need to see.”
“We really need the Internet to be that thing that we all dreamed of it being. We need it to connect us all together. We need it to introduce us to new ideas and new people and different perspectives. And it’s not going to do that if it leaves us all isolated in a Web of one.”
“Your filter bubble is your own personal, unique universe of information that you live in online. What’s in your filter bubble depends on who you are, and it depends on what you do. But you don’t decide what gets in — and more importantly, you don’t see what gets edited out.”