"Yes, Virginia, Google was Screwing with You." (The Filter Bubble)

In 2009, I wrote posts where I suspected that Google was screwing with me when it showed me search results.

"Do a search for yourself one day and Google will use its standard search algorithm to find standard results. But do that same search a different day, and Google will run its special beta algorithm and return results that it thinks you want. Then it looks to see what you do next. If you click on page after page of results, it assumes you, the person, are somehow related to those results since you read through more of them than a casual searcher might. And Google learns from this and becomes smarter."

So I'm glad that the new book, The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You, is confirming my suspicions: the internet knows who I am, but it loves me, anyway.

But as librarians, this hidden internet sucks. What happens when you share a computer at the service desk? And you do a search and click some links and the Google wraps you in that safe, protective bubble? What happens at the shift change? A second librarian sits at the desk and enters your bubble. And now all the searches are filtered for you, but the second librarian isn't you... won't is seem to the second librarian that Google suddenly started sucking? That it can't find anything the second librarian wants?

For the single user, the bubble probably feels great. But share a computer with someone and the bubble becomes a prison. It suffocates the second user, ... and then even chokes the first as the bubble doesn't know what to let in and what keep out.

But I'm glad someone confirmed this bubble because for a time, I thought I was becoming the most popular blogger in the world when I would search for things and see my blog posts show at the top of the search results. And now I know I was never popular; that's good, isn't it?

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