The Isolation of Filtration… the downside of “customer-centricity”

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!

Happy Isolation!

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7 thoughts on “The Isolation of Filtration… the downside of “customer-centricity”

  1. Many years ago when google started geo tagging I wrote them a very angry email about it. then I learned the magic link:
    http://www.google.com/ncr
    ncr stands for (no country redirect).
    Also once you select it, your browser will store a cookie that will maintain the preference so you shouldn’t have to do it again.

    about the youtube video. In facebook, just go to your homepage (newsfeeds), and click on most recent (twice) , you can turn off, the show me only people I recently interacted with feature which does the hiding he’s talking about (of course you’re still invisible to people who haven’t turned it off), or select to only see a specific type of feed (like only status updates). In google news you can customize your own news feed with the keywords you want, and likewise with twitter where you choose who to follow and can follow specific tags. Of course the best way to get custom news is rss feeds. So I think the guy is blowing this way out of proportion. It’s only true for the people too lazy to seek their options. Options they never used to have at all 15 years ago when all they could choose from is nbc/cbs/abc or in Jordan where it was jtv 1, jtv2 , Israel 1, Israel 2 or Syria.

    • Hani, thanks for dropping in, man. Ages since I saw you on line (that’s undoubtedly down to me, mind you). The google link is great, thanks. I read a Slate rebuttal of this guy’s premise. But, I think the conversation about it is good. After all, we need to be telling google that their “help” is often not at all helpful, sigh. :). We definitely have more options these days, but I just want to be sure that I maintain the wide-view of my options ;). Appreciate the tips!

  2. Google tries to route my searches through google.jo which I abhor, even if it is in English. No trouble managing a workaround though

  3. Mommabean, it’s because I haven’t been blogging or reading blogs for ages. i just read the title of this post on my facebook newsfeed shortly after watching that same video when khaled/kinzi linked to it.

  4. I have been frustrated by this since it seems that Facebook is now using the alogorithm to determine who you would like to be friends with or whose news you would like to see based on your political status, too. Now, please. Let me determine that. Furthermore, don’t you think I might like a little broadening here and there at times? I’m glad to have this info and will be posting it on my Facebook page. THANK YOU!!!!!

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