Friday, October 7, 2011

Information Junkfood

Many naysayers of the Internet bemoan the idea that having free and immediate access to so much information is a good thing.  However the common  (wo)man, including myself,  mostly subscribes to the concept that by allowing us to filter our own content  and come to our own conclusions with the input we gather, that we have a more global and far reaching understanding of our world today than did the generation that came before us. 

Our parent’s generation had only newspapers, radio and TV, along with the local gossip cotillion, with which to gather information and formulate their world view.   There was limited space for information, and always filtered by that editor, producer or director.    But today, we have free access……right?

Ah, enter reality vs. perception.  The answer to that is emphatically NO!  As our viewing habits and preferences are accumulated through complex algorithms by the search engines - first Yahoo, then Google and very very soon, Siri – these conduits for the information we receive begin to filter our content to what the mathematical equation believes are our preferences.  The search engines filter the info for what becomes our world view, or that which defines us.

So, in the same way as the human editors of the past would influence our window to the world, so now is an inhuman mathematical code.    Unlike a human editor, a computer does not have embedded ethics in it's DNA.  Results:  We may be continually ingesting a diet of information junkfood rather than a well balanced meal of evidence and facts with which to feed our intellect.

Eli Pariser, of MoveOn, presented on this topic at the TED conference earlier this year.  Although I do not always agree with Eil’s point of view, I do think that this video is an eye opener, and well worth 10 minutes of your time.   It is one of those things that make you go hmmmm……

Are you concerned with the fact that inhuman data collection mapping software is influencing our information, affecting our point of view?  What suggestions or comments would you give to the major search engines about this trend if you had the ear of the CEO?

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