The Filter Bubble has made me want to crawl into my virtual bunker and never let another picture of myself grace the internet. I sat down to read this casually one night and never stopped, reading portions out loud about how even the bank knows what I am doing online and will probably use it to tell me if I can pay back a loan or not. But as Pariser explains, even though the bank and Google and Facebook and all the other websites we visit might be privy to this virtual identity, we rarely are.
And that is the thesis of The Filter Bubble. It is not inherently wrong that websites and technologies want information about the people who are using them, but that there is no transparency. If Google is collecting mass amounts of information about me and then is personalizing my search engines, how will I ever know if they got it right?
The concept behind The Filter Bubble is that with all of the personalization happening around the web, thanks mainly to Google and Facebook, we are moving closer and closer to visiting the web in homogeneous neighborhoods of sorts that have been filtered using our information and various algorithms. Different websites do it differently, but many of the companies that Pariser described were organizations that I had never heard of, that all have disturbingly dystopian-sounding names. They collect, curate and sell our information to the companies that can afford it.
But, as Pariser is quick to point out, technology is neither good nor bad. It has no inherent leaning towards one or the other, it is a neutral thing that can be used for good or bad, like anything else. There are ways that this technology can be used for good and not evil. Fortunately, Pariser points a lot of the good that can come out of this towards the end of his book.
Pariser is a good writer who makes this interesting conundrum into an even more interesting story. The Filter Bubble is more than just a collection of evidence, it’s a history of how this technology came into existence and how websites like Google and Facebook, specifically, transformed from their original sites into the monoliths that they are now. The scope of The Filter Bubble goes beyond those giants and explores other aspects of the web, though they are the big players in the book. Pariser’s writing style is clean and readable and he makes this book relevant to a wide scope of readers. This is something that impacts those of us who have a presence on the web, which is nearly everyone.
Now, the final question is, how will the fact that I’ve posted about this book affect my personalized results on the internet? I’ll let you know.
So go read this!: now | tomorrow | next week | next month | next year | when you’ve read everything else
Thank you to TLC Book Tours for sending me a copy of this book to review. For more information on the tour, please click here.