In December 2009, Google began customizing its search results for each user. Instead of giving you the most broadly popular result, Google now tries to predict what you are most likely to click on. According to MoveOn.org board president Eli Pariser, Google's change in policy is symptomatic of the most significant shift to take place on the Web in recent years: the rise of personalization. In this groundbreaking investigation of the new hidden Web, Pariser uncovers how this growing trend threatens to control how we consume and share information as a society - and reveals what we can do about it.
Though the phenomenon has gone largely undetected until now, personalized filters are sweeping the Web, creating individual universes of information for each of us. Facebook - the primary news source for an increasing number of Americans - prioritizes the links it believes will appeal to you so that if you are a liberal, you can expect to see only progressive links. Even an old-media bastion like The Washington Post devotes the top of its home page to a news feed with the links your Facebook friends are sharing. Behind the scenes, a burgeoning industry of data companies is tracking your personal information to sell to advertisers, from your political leanings to the color you painted your living room to the hiking boots you just browsed on Zappos.
In a personalized world, we will increasingly be typed and fed only news that is pleasant, familiar, and confirms our beliefs - and because these filters are invisible, we won't know what is being hidden from us. Our past interests will determine what we are exposed to in the future, leaving less room for the unexpected encounters that spark creativity, innovation, and the democratic exchange of ideas. While we all worry that the Internet is eroding privacy or shrinking our attention spans, Pariser uncovers a more pernicious and far-reaching trend and shows how we can - and must - change course.
©2011 Eli Pariser (P)2011 Tantor
I rarely write reviews for anything so please know that when reading this. *I give this book my highest recommendation*
I discovered this book when I opened one of those viral emails that got distributed to me by a friend about Eli Pariser's "The Filter Bubble" presentation he gave at the 2011 TED talks. This video was very interesting to me, and when I learned he was just summarizing his thesis for his book of the same name, I immediately investigated.
I read a few reviews for this book and decided to give it a try. I was hooked in the first chapter. This book is incredible! I have just finished it this morning, and honestly believe it is the most impactful and insightful book users of Google and Facebook should understand. None more than a great (paraphrased) quote: Chances are if you are using a free online service, *you* are actually the product being marketed.
To be straight forward though, I must confess that I am a computer science student, and aim to venture in the world of internet technologies, and as a result I found this book particularly relevent towards what I would like to do in the future. Having said that, in no way shape or form should anyone think this book is less relevant if they know nothing about Google's search algorithms.
If you've never done a lot of Google searches, or do not have a Facebook account, you may not find this book particularly helpful. For people that find themselves on computers as often or more often than watching TV, this book is worth taking a look at.
Eli Pariser's Filter Bubble is among the best ever written on the dangers posed by over-personalization in the Social Media Age. The tendency of FaceBook, Google and others to give us what they think we like is leading to a fracturing of our society and our isolation. I recommend that everyone read and learn about the Filter Bubble. The consequence of failure will lead directly to a major catastrophic decline in the quality of our interactions and defeating the promise of an Open and Free Internet.
There are few tidbits of knowledge in here, if you can filter out the blatant false claims, internal inconsistencies, and stunning political bias.
When the author actually covers internet filtering, there are some interesting tidbits of information, but the reader needs to filter which passages are fact and which passages are the author's opinions. For example, when describing Google's ranking algorithm, the author claims that the algorithm is so large and complex (hundreds of thousands of lines of code), that not even Google's engineers understand how it ranks your personalized searches. Yet, in the book's conclusion, when arguing for public disclosure of Google's algorithm for the sake of guarding against evil (while mocking the intellectual property value of the algorithm), the author makes the stunning claim that the public will 'intuitively' understand page ranks. So, when the algorithm is private, it's incomprehensible even by professionals, but when disclosed to the public, it becomes intuitively obvious!
Given the author's liberal peppering of his political agenda throughout the book, i understand his point of view. Regrettably, the incessant political undertones tremendously detract from the subject matter. Some examples include the claim that inanimate objects are the root causes of evil, not the misuse of those objects by humans -- Google's algorithm can't harm anyone by itself, rather the misuse of the algorithm by humans may cause harm. Applying the author's twisted political logic to computer viruses and malware would put the blame for damage on the virus code rather than the malcontents who wrote and distributed the virus code.
you need to read or listen to this book. No matter your political persuasion (Eli Parser is associated with MoveOn), you owe it to yourself to find out what the internet (and the large information gatherers) are hiding from you and how you can protect yourself. The concept of personalizing our information and eventually using it to control the behavior of people without their knowledge is very frightening. To think that companies and governments will NOT use it to their advantage is extremely naive. To deny the possibility is to bury your head in the sand. The technology is out there already...this is not science fiction...and it's not going away unless we all take action to protect the little privacy that we still have.
The content of this book is spot on and the reader does an excellent job with the material. I'm giving it the highest ratings and I'll not only recommend to my friends and acquaintances, I'll give copies every chance I get.
Good job, Eli and Kirby! Good job Audible for making it available!
This is a must have book. It examines and details the inner workings of social media, commercial sites, search engines, etc. and their upcoming (or already existing) negative impact on as wells as take over of our societies.
Actually, that's all I've got. It's hard to explain but there was something tedious about this book. There were points that sounded like hyperbole, but I couldn't swear by it. The development of our online cultural space is important, but I'm not sure Pariser quite captured the thing. I hope he keeps trying, though!
(Also, try listening to this while also on a Civ: Beyond Earth binge.)
Work is Way Busy. Relaxation with a good book is mandatory. Audible lets me get into many more books per year than before.
Perhaps enjoyable is not the word so much as shocking but the material was well researched and therefore was hard to pause for any length of time. Even as a bit of a geek, there was much information that surprised me. The extent of internet information collection and usage as described in this story scares me more than a nuclear warhead in Iran! It even makes me worry more about the next generation and how little it would take for the wrong people to get their hands on the power of this information for bad purposes. The suggestions for solutions seem lame and difficult to assure.
In my opinion, there are very few performers who can read these non-fiction titles super effectively. The average reader tends to sound less than excited or perhaps the rehearsal time is shortened which leads to gentle ennui.
Even without paranoia, this book can make the world scary.
I enjoyed learning all that was in this book as well as the potential solutions. It is another book that I feel should be mandatory reading at some level in the educational system.
This was one of those books you end up talking about with everyone you know. This should be mandatory reading for everyone who uses the Internet.
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