Eli Pariser / June 16th, 2011 / Tweet
In 1989, computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee (now Sir Tim Berners-Lee) invented the World Wide Web. Since then, he’s been an advocate for his creation, preaching the gospel of openness against some of the encroaching forces. (This recent Scientific American article is especially worth reading.)
Recently, an attendee at an Internet Society conference in New York asked him about the filter bubble. Here’s a (slightly cleaned up) transcript of how he responded — emphasis mine.
The filter bubble phenomenon, I think that noun is applied to the idea that a search engine can get to know you and so it can get to know the source of things it thinks you’re interested in. You will end up in a bubble because you will reward the search engine — you will go to the search engine — it feeds you things which you’re excited about and happy about and it won’t feed you things which get you thinking.
. . . As a result, you end up being dedicated to your tribe. You will never understand as a Yankee why the Red Sox were so ‘cachuffed’ to beat you a couple of years ago. As an Israeli you will never understand why you’re upsetting the Palestinian people. So, there’s danger in the filter bubble… Once you’re bracketed as somebody who buys pretty expensive stuff, the web won’t show you the cheap stuff and so you wont believe that the cheap stuff exists. You’ll have a twisted view of the world.
So I think that’s a really interesting thing. Somebody mentioned the Web Science Trust. [This] discussion is very much what I call a web science issue, if you look at this sort of thing you really have to look at humanity connected as a very large system and you have to use a lot of different… you have to use sociology, psychology, you have to use economics and you have to use mathematics as well as computer science to figure out the web and figure out what the implications of this will be.
(The video is here, around minute 31.)