”Just what I was looking for!” We have thought that many times looking for information on Google. Even if we thought that it is a strange topic, Google gave us exactly the answer we need. Is this casualty, or is there something else behind that precision?
Eli Pariser‘s TED Talk reminds me of some theories that we have studied throughout this course, concretely the Two-step flow theory and the Agenda Setting (explained previously on this blog). Both of them have a common point: there are gatekeepers that control the information before its general diffusion. The interesting fact is that when we look for a topic on Google, peculiar gatekeepers ”help” us in order to find exactly what it is relevant for us. The peculiarity is that they are Algorithmic gatekeepers, computer programs that decide what we want to see and what we do not need to see. However, after know that fact I feel we all are manipulated by a robot, a computer program that gathers personalized information that fit to our believes and concerns, instead of showing us the objective reality.
On the other hand there are differences between ”relevant” and ”important’‘. Personally, I think that, in a democratic society, I do not really need relevant information, the information that fits to my opinion, I need the important information, the truthful and objective real information. Maybe I am disagree with that information because its ideas are against my current believes and opinions, but it is important to know about it. Additionally, being able to know about that information give us the opportunity to see, and maybe understand, another point of view, a new perspective that can change positively our current opinion, or even make our current opinion stronger. Therefore, we should have the control to decide how to set our own information filters in order to not be blind, regarding the real situation of the world.
My final thought is that, we do not need just relevant information, that will gratify us and will provide us the information we need at a specific moment, instead, we all need the same important information, even if it is uncomfortable. On the other hand, in a democratic world, we need transparency online too, all kind of information from all kind of filters that we can control. Then, the result will be more awareness about the world, more perspectives that will enrich our own point of view and, of course, a real connection to the whole world.
Eli Pariser – TED Talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles.html