The Personalized Internet and the Big Brother Internet
The Filter Bubble:
What the internet is hiding from you
By Eli Pariser
[Hardcover], 293 pages
Call No.: 004.67 Par
The Net Delusion: The Dark Side Of Internet Freedom
By Evgeny Morozov
[Hardcover], 432 pages
Call No.: 303.4834 Mor
Eli Pariser is a well known activist and a founder of Moveon.org, a liberal leftwing political action committee (PAC). In The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding from You, Pariser briefly explains how he became aware of the “invisible algorithmic editing” and filtering of his personal search results using Google and his Facebook newsfeed. How will such editing, filtering, and personalization likely hinder what we as informed people need to see, Pariser asks. Are we, the users, even aware of how our “information diets” are not balanced but instead are based on our own keystrokes and wants, tracked by the internet, and fed back to us? Pariser claims we largely aren’t.
I had never understood how personalized search results are actually based on induction — on many of our previous searches, as well as a multitude of other factors, including our IP addresses/locations, of course.
Watch Pariser’s TED Talk in March of 2011 to promote his book and then check the book out at Lantana Public Library. Evgeny Morozov also writes a thoughtful review of Pariser’s book, as well, titled “Your Facts,” on the New York Times website, June 10, 2011.
Morozov’s The Net Delusion: The Dark Side Of Internet Freedom analyzes internet freedom in recent history and criticizes recent political attempts to reinvent it as a new form of the Cold War.
Morozov criticizes the Western media’s claims that Twitter, along with widely available gadgets and internet connectivity and foreign support, helped to coordinate the Iranian June 2009 election protests by the Green Movement. Citing credible sources, Morozov reveals that U.S. State Department requests to Twitter to delay its scheduled maintenance of its website minimally helped the protests; Iran had proportionately fewer Twitter users actually in Iran, and Twitter feeds were probably not needed to inform Tehran residents of street protests.
Indeed, Morozov is critical of the Google Doctrine – best expressed by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton in January 2010 as the optimism that internet freedom is essential to fighting authoritarian governments. Morozov observes that the three activities of Orwellian-style authoritarianism – propaganda, censorship, and surveillance – are not ultimately overturned by the 24 hour information news cycle, social networking, or the high speeds offered by internet. Undemocratic governments persist, not rendered illegitimate either: extreme nationalism, economic prosperity, and other developments may used by such governments to rationalize their actions.
Morozov isn’t entirely pessimistic, however. He prescribes cyberrealism, in the form of decentralized regional policies, non-technological solutions to political problems, and recognition that the internet doesn’t automatically bring democracy.
These are must-reads for anyone who wants to understand other perspectives on the internet!