Great TEDTalk about the “filter bubble” that we netizens have constructed:
Q: What is the Internet hiding from me?
A: As Google engineer Jonathan McPhie explained to me, it’s different for every person – and in fact, even Google doesn’t totally know how it plays out on an individual level. At an aggregate level, they can see that people are clicking more. But they can’t predict how each individual’s information environment is altered.
In general, the things that are most likely to get edited out are the things you’re least likely to click on. Sometimes, this can be a real service – if you never read articles about sports, why should a newspaper put a football story on your front page? But apply the same logic to, say, stories about foreign policy, and a problem starts to emerge. Some things, like homelessness or genocide, aren’t highly clickable but are highly important.
Although his thesis is certainly engaging, considering the expansion of the Web into our daily lives, I would note that our filtering and sorting capabilities are fairly strong without an Internet. Segregation/apartheid is probably the most obvious example, but human beings have spent a lot of time hiding parts of the world from themselves and each other. We fit ourselves into tracks and then associate with the people we meet on those tracks — cliques in high school, college (or not going to college), workplace acquaintances, etc. There is, quite frankly, an evolutionary bonus to only associating with people who act/think/behave like you — you can be sure of their intentions and behavior and better plan your own. This does lead to substantial problems when building a bigger community, but it works very well for the smaller tribal societies and clans that are at the core of human development.