Monday, December 5, 2011

Less Filter Bubbles with Twitter and RSS?

Talking to an old-aged man who had just discovered the internet, he said: "The internet is just so great, what a huge amount of sources we have there!" And I agree with him. The internet is amazing. The huge amount of content shared there about all kinds of topics. The way we can interact with content and people via the internet. The amazing number of different internet services. And we have reached the end of what the internet will bring us.

But is the internet all good. There have been many that question if the internet is such a positive force. Shouldn't we question some (or all) of the changes the internet is doing to the world and to. Andrew Keen wrote about the negative aspects of the internet on culture. Nicolas Carr published about book about what the internet is doing to our brain. And more can be mentioned here.

Recently I bumped into a review of The Filter Bubble in my Dutch newspaper, went over to watch the related TED Talk with the same title and the post about information gatekeepers popped up in my feeds. Talk about the wonders of internet and serendipity...

In short the TED talk is about how services like Google and Facebook are automatically filtering out information for us, without us knowing, based on our profiles, search behavior, friends, etc. And the question is asked if this is good thing.

I'm happy these kind of questions are being asked. It helps me question myself if I'm too positive about the (role of) the internet in my life. One of the things I like about the internet is the fact that so much information is accessible at my finger tips. And the fact that I can follow close and far-away friends, thinkers and experts with such ease. I try to keep my filters fresh and open to new views. And as I agree and understand that Google and Facebook are trying to help me find what's relevant, I also see that I need other ways to get unfiltered content. Isn't this where Twitter and a good feedreader come in? Oh, yes, even there I don't follow the whole world on Twitter and I can read all the blogs in the world. But it's hard to block out all kinds of information I think I don't want to see. I can't stop someone I'm following to not send a tweet or write a blogpost about a certain topic. Of course I don't have to read the blogpost, but to do that I have to read the title of the post. And with that I'm at least confronted with his/her view on a topic.

Does this make sense? I'm really curious how you stay out of the filter bubble. Please share your thoughts!
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