Follow the Filter Bubble

TED Talk

Every year, thousands of entrepreneurs, change-makers, innovators and scientists gather in Long Beach, California for TED, the world’s leading thought conference. In 2011, the audience included executives from Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and many other Silicon Valley startups.

So when Eli Pariser explained the filter bubble concept and then called on them from the main stage to change how they do business, it wasn’t at all clear how they’d react. Watch the video to see what happened:

23 Responses to “TED Talk”

  1. Russell Huxhold says:

    This talk supports why Twitter is such a powerful tool. Twitter will continue to make inroads as a significant news service by providing a platform for unbiased and unfiltered information.

  2. Ruth says:

    Talk about bolstering the polarity that exists between folks…UGH!!! Its like the eultimate yes-man. Great talk, hope things change

  3. Steve says:

    @Eli – Definitely a significant issue – really nice work.

    @Russell Huxhold – I’m a fan of Twitter, but it’s not above this issue. Humans are incapable of ingesting 1 billion tweets per week, so there’s bound to be major filtering going on. Twitter also uses algorithms to suggest who to follow, or determine what’s trending; both of which will influence the content we’re exposed to over time. Even our initial decision to participate in Twitter is a filter.

    In 1954 Jiddu Krishnamurti wrote something that’s equally true and relevant today …

    There is an art of listening. To be able really to listen, one should abandon or put aside all prejudices, preformulations and daily activities. When you are in a receptive state of mind, things can be easily understood; you are listening when your real attention is given to something. But unfortunately most of us listen through a screen of resistance. We are screened with prejudices, whether religious or spiritual, psychological or scientific; or with our daily worries, desires and fears. And with these for a screen, we listen. Therefore, we listen really to our own noise, to our own sound, not to what is being said. It is extremely difficult to put aside our training, our prejudices, our inclination, our resistance, and, reaching beyond the verbal expression, to listen so that we understand instantaneously. That is going to be one of our difficulties.


    1 billion tweets per week source

  4. John Hudson says:

    wonderful talk. could usefully link this to existing work on groupthink and how groups edit out disruptive perspectives——and ultimately fail to evolve and destruct, but very wastefully.

  5. Susan von Struensee says:

    Fascinating and important, clearly the result of deep thinking and thorough research. People should also give Eli’s book, The Filter Bubble a read. It could light a fire under all of us. And that’s the first step for positive change.

  6. [...] then read) my friend Eli’s book The Filter Bubble. If you want an appetizer before you read, watch his TED talk. Heck, watch his TED talk [...]

  7. The introduction to this great talk says “it wasn’t at all clear how they’d react. Watch the video to see what happened”, but after watching it’s still unclear how they reacted – is the response in another video somewhere?

  8. [...] is worth reading Eli Pariser’s book on The Filter Bubble. Not much of a reader? Then try this TED talk instead. Jonathan Zittrain, in The Future Of The Internet and How to Stop it, has already been warning us [...]

  9. [...] of his own and other blog posts on the topic and related content, as well as links to his TED talk and 10 Ways to Pop Your Filter Bubble. LikeBe the first to like this [...]

  10. Benjamin says:

    Yes, I totally agree with this lecture. Just yesterday May 27, 2011 I had this kind of experience when I was looking for some information in Google and using different browsers: Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari.

    Talking about searching in Facebook, wow. It’s other story.

  11. - says:

    “Twitter will continue to make inroads as a significant news service by providing a platform for unbiased and unfiltered information”
    albeit scatterbrained, SAS info :-)
    anyway, I don’t see twitter, as it is now, expanding much further. anyone who’s tried it or looked at it, has already decided whether to use it.

  12. Gobbledigoogle, Fakebook and a virtual tsunami of twittering rubbish are but some of Big Brother’s tentacles turning each and every one of us into gormless consumers! Sleep tight, American Dreamers!

  13. Roxanne says:

    I absolutely agree – a call for transparency and responsibility for sure. I just wrote a blog post voicing the same concerns:

  14. Seth Hymes says:

    That Zuckerburg quote is chilling to me. It speaks to the very lowest form of human awareness; complete obliviousness to the world outside your little bubble. This is a great question to be raised by the speaker: is “relevance” necessarily “valuable”? The whole notion of relevance as the key to a good search engine really does make it apparent that it’s nothing but a sales mechanism. This is a very poignant video.

  15. Yuan Cao says:

    it reminded me of an old term called “the daily me”
    seems that internet has only made it worse

  16. oneguy says:

    What I find most striking in this talk are not speakers observations.

    What is TRULY DEPRESSING is the suggested solution. He kindly asks people to incorporate “ethics” and other issues into the search results. Its absolutely absurd!!!

    No algorithms! No filtering! NOTHING!! This is the only sensible solution! THERE IS NO OTHER WAY!

    Why should I give some people an authority to influence what I can see?? Improved algorithms is just another means by which one person controls MILLIONS of others!!!

  17. Cybonn says:

    Umberto Eco already raised this issue in 1995– a decade before Facebook and Twitter. See, it takes eons for even a thing called “foresight” to even gestate in the minds of businessmen and politicians. The world should listen to writers more often.

  18. cynthia says:

    This is why I started using a new browser called — no filter bubble.

  19. AA says:

    Wake up people. Google, Facebook, etc are out there to make money. Do you honestly think that these executives are going to change because of this speech? Let’s see who’s in the naivety bubble. Just stop using these unfriendly programs and demand for alternatives.

  20. Me says:

    Its an easy target – and I dont agree filtering is a bad thing. Since the telegraf people has believed that the new medium would open up the world, make it a better place, more peace less war. Its just didn’t happend.

    Sure, internet could be a place for learning new things, see things from a new angle – but people (most of them) simply dont care about something far away that they never will get in touch with. Why? – Then you would had to care about everything happing on earth. If google gave you the choise, you do want personalized results or not, on every search, im pretty sure most people would want results related to them. Why get places for take-away foods far away? if you are hurgry, you probaly want to eat now.

  21. Sachin says:

    He does not say the algorithm control everthing that you see. He mentions that the user gets to know what are the factors influencing what he sees and he suggests that the user has some control over the factors.

  22. clo says:

    I started using duckduckgo as a search engine as well.. all searches are anonymous, untracked, and use SSL.

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    "The Filter Bubble shows how unintended consequences of well-meaning online designs can impose profound and sudden changes on politics. All agree that the Internet is a potent tool for change, but whether changes are for the better or worse is up to the people who create and use it. If you feel that the Web is your wide open window on the world, you need to read this book to understand what you aren't seeing."

    Jaron Lanier, author of You Are Not a Gadget

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