The Internet is Hiding Something From You by Fany Nasution08/10/2012 This entry was posted in Trends. Bookmark the permalink.
In Raconteur (and Maverick), we are serious about our interns. We don’t treat interns as someone who can help us make copies (or coffee). We’re looking for bright and talented young minds who are dynamic, passionate, well-versed, creative, and have the right attitude. We value interns as the source of new ideas and insights. We want them to work closely with us. They work on some of the things that we (really) do, get involved in discussion and brainstorming sessions, attend client meetings, and contribute a blogpost, like this one. A great piece from one of our brightest interns, Fany Nasution.
Do you want to know a secret? The Internet is hiding something from you.
For some, the Internet means something that connect us (or the world) together. Yet, Eli Pariser, the author of ‘The Filter Bubble’ might disagree with that.
Nowadays, “Just Google it!” has become the answer of every question we had. It has also became the common response that we get. Most people are satisfied with Google’s answer. But, is it really “the” answer?
According to Eli Pariser, the Internet is not an impartial tool that delivers random information to us (as we generally assume). Every time we do a Google search, as a search engine, the information it delivers to us is actually determined by its page-rank algorithm. There are fifty-seven signals Google looks at: from the type of computer you’re on, the kind of browser you use, where you’re located, to the kind of past links you’ve clicked . These are aimed to customize the results of Internet users’ queries. They called it ‘personalization’.
The “personalization process” steers you towards the contents that search engines think you want. Applications, websites, and keyword search you regularly use has become this kind of predictive tools, which then creates what Eli Pariser called ‘The Filter Bubble’.
Based on Pariser’s book, the fact is this: Google looks into your previous queries and the clicks that follow, then refines its search results accordingly. If you clicked on gossip blogs or websites like Wollipop more frequently rather than news portals such as The Jakarta Post Online, links to Wollipop may be featured more prominently in your search results.
On the other hand, this “personalization” thing is also a cause for concern, because websites can gather huge amounts of information about their users, creating an infrastructure for surveillance: a privacy nightmare. It could also assist censorship, whereby the algorithms determine the types of information that can or cannot be shown. Astoundingly, it’s not just about Google. It’s sweeping the web nowadays. Lots of companies are doing this, such as Yahoo News, New York Times, and many more. Different people will get different results based on their Internet’s history and the bubble in which they are “trapped” into. The funny thing is that you can’t see how different your search result is from someone else, who are searching using the same keywords at the same time. The Internet shows people what they want to see, but not what they need to see.
Something to remember, search engines analyze who you are from the information you find on the Internet, and give you information based on your habit. Thus, be more careful when you’re surfing on the Internet, because one click can lead you to a certain bubble, even the bubble of Internet junk.
*) Fany is a communication student majoring Public Relations at University of Indonesia. At the moment, she’s having an internship here with us, at Raconteur until September 2012. Starting as a staff member of the Student Executive Council of the Faculty of Social and Political Science in 2010 and the Vice Chairman of Public Relations Department in 2011, now she serves as the Head of Public Relations Department, where she is expected to understand various political issues both outside and inside the campus. Apart from being an activist, she is also a traditional and contemporary jazz dancer. Her academic achievements is outstanding. She’s the first faculty winner of Adiwiyata Competition 2011—an environmental-related competition. In her spare time, she takes German class. Fany loves to laugh (too much), listen to the backsound of computer games (yep, just listening to the backsound, not playing the game), jump around, and dance. She tweets as @fanynasution.