The Filter Bubble Is Not A Horror

In this age of democracy, people easily over-react when they heard their lives are under control. So when Eli Pariser (2011) came up with the concept of the filter bubble, people get panicked and think personalized search is an evil thing that imprisons our spirit. However, please clam down and think carefully, does personalization really ruin your life and drive you to the hell? Or you are just overstating the case and scaring yourself? Do you really prefer looking for information one by one without any recommendation or suggestion? Please don’t forget the smile when you find a reference efficiently in google when you are writing an difficult essay under a deadline.

There is a truth that no one can deny: Freedom is a relative concept. You win some, you lose some. No one can really do or gain everything he/she wants, even the queen of the UK or the president of USA. As well, you cannot reach all the information in the Internet even thought you have this right legally. In my opinion, searching for information is like asking question to a person. People give you the answer that think you want, but not always you think you want. So as the searching engine. When you are traveling in another country, will you blame a kind stranger who tell you the wrong place because of the misunderstanding?

Lovink (2013) argued that online discussion tends to take place within “echo chambers” where groups of like-minded individuals, consciously or not, avoid debate with their cultural or political adversaries. But in my opinion that is a basic human nature and happens in the real world. People always make friends with those who can share the same interest,  and not everyone enjoys debating. Likewise, raising objections is also a kind of human nature, which will never disappear. For thousands of years, the human being never passively accept everything from the environment. Those debater can always discover and build their battlefield actively. Convergence or dispersion only depends on the feature of a platform. In my understanding, platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Google are for integrating preference while Twitter and Quora are for showing opinions.

Obviously I am not the only person who believe that the personalization of search engine is not as evil as Eli Pariser indicates. “The filter bubble is increasingly used as a retort of fear, uncertainty and doubt when discussing personalization, marketing and privacy.” says Aj Kohn “despite the dire warnings about the dangers of the filter bubble, I believe there’s potentially more to gain than to lose.” In his blog post The Preference Bubble, he explained that simply putting something else in front of a person more often isn’t going to change their mind, and popping the filter bubble will not persuade people to think differently. From his perspective, The filter bubble is not something terrible but is a product of human nature, it has been around before the Internet and will be there long after because it simply reflects our preferences.Will it be a better world that you can see, hear or eat 50% things that you don’t like or even hate? When you always need to spend a double hour to find a good which fits your taste, don’t you feel so tired? Personalization is offering you a better service, and you have the right to reject it just like asking the shop assitant not to follow and recommend products to you. No software in your computer really blocks your access to the world that you dislike.

The Internet and the search engine are tools we designed to help ourselves. There is no good tool or bad tool. When you cut your finger d by using a knife,  it’s only because you didn’t use it in a right way. Meghan Keaney Anderson asked a good question to help us clarifying the true purpose of the personalization “Are you reading to expand or reading for efficiency?” He indicated personalized searches and content help to strip out irrelevant material and get to the heart of a question more quickly. If you are trying to learn about a new topic or expand your perspective, you ought to take the time to clear your cookies, use an incognito browser, or ask questions in circles outside of your own.

As a Chinese people, I have to say the filter bubble is really not a big deal. It only changes the ranking of websites, and you can still find those not recommended sites in the later part of the list if you are patient enough. However, in my country people face to a “filter wall”, which is the true barrier set by administrative power. Websites can be blocked, and information can be deleted, but we still have a variety of methods to approach the real world and excavate the truth. So why should we afraid of the filter bubble? Don’t underestimate your intelligence.


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