Some of you may remember I complained about google “helping” me by choosing to offer its browser to me in Arabic. While I get that perhaps most people in Jordan want google in Arabic (or MSN Arabia or Monster Gulf or Blogger) I’m not one of them. The worst thing about their “assistance” is that the button to make it English was in (drum roll please) Arabic. And it wasn’t simple the word English, which I can read. So, I was pretty ticked off about it and it took some doing to get my google screen back in English. A friend Facebooked this TED talk which is truly fascinating. In it, the speaker discusses how the algorithms used by google, yahoo, facebook, etc., are choosing what content is “relevant” to you based on things like where you are accessing the internet. Clearly, for me, that has worked out so well in the past (eye roll and snicker inserted here).
This young man challenges us to think about how the world is being filtered for us. It should make each of us want to better understand how we’re being given information. After all, I assure you my Jordan bubble is small enough already. When I search for monster, I’m not looking for Monster Gulf. And when I search for Americana, it’s because I want a taste of home, not information on how to apply for a visa at the embassy. So, once more I’ll just say, thanks google, but don’t make choices for me. You did an abysmal job last time and I have no confidence that you’ll do better this time!