Follow the Filter Bubble

Filtering ourselves by eyewear


/ May 25th, 2011 /

Personalization algorithms, especially those that factor in our friends’ preferences, have a way of clumping us into ever more¬†homogeneous and like-minded¬†groups. That’s one of the central ideas of The Filter Bubble.

But, as Eli freely admits, online personalization is not the only force filtering out diversity and sieving in homogeneity. We humans are very good at sorting ourselves into groups that look and think much like ourselves – without the help of algorithms.

The power of homophily, the sociological term for our self-sorting tendencies, hardly needs scholarly backing ; just glancing around any college cafeteria should be enough to convince that we flock to birds of similar feathers. But that doesn’t stop academics from supplying hundreds of studies for evidence. In two such recent papers, researchers show the breadth and depth of our self-sorting behavior.

On the high-commitment end, we marry within our political party. That may not seem surprising, but when you compare it to a weaker tendency to marry people with similar personality traits, it suggests that for the most important decisions in life we value people who think like we do more than those who act like us.

At the other – superficial – extreme, we sit near people who look like us. Based on self reports and experiments, researched subjects tend to find seats next to people of the same gender, race, hair length, hair color and general attractiveness. And, yes, eyeglass wearers prefer sitting next to each other too.


Subscribe

Events


Tweets


    Posts


    Categories

    New York Times Bestseller

    Buy the book from

    Amazon.com (US)
    Amazon.co.uk (UK)
    Barnes & Noble
    Indiebound

    Buy the audiobook from

    Tantor Audiobook

    "For more than a decade, reflective souls have worried about the consequences of perfect personalization. Eli Pariser's is the most powerful and troubling critique yet."

    Lawrence Lessig, author of Remix, Free Culture and Code

    View More

    You can reach Eli by email at epariser@elipariser.com