Filter Bubbles

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I remember reading somewhere that target once knew a teenage daughter was pregnant before her father knew. The father did not understand how this could be happening, but based on the purchases made with the target card, target could track trends and saw that it was likely that the teen was pregnant. This intrigued me. How could someone write programing that sophisticated? I now understand that it probably wasn’t as challenging as I thought it was, but the fact that a computer could determine this information before the human brain even processed the physical changes made me wonder. What other information is the system collecting about us? Is it a good thing that people are collecting this information about us or is it more of a problem?

During our courses, we have discussed that our students are growing up in a world where everything from the coffee they buy down the street (or at least their parents buy) to the background on their cell phone is able to be customized to that child. When I was younger, it was a big deal to even get my name on the back of my sports uniform and this has now become an expectation. Students are inundated with opportunities to customize things to fit their individual preferences and needs. Why can’t they expect the same thing at school? Even their internet searches lead to specific results tailored to how the students interact with various websites. What pages did the students look at last? What were the search terms they last typed in?

All of this data accumulation leads to the opportunity for companies and various associations to send specifically tailor results so that you receive information that is relevant to you. This can be a good thing in the sense that results will be more relevant to what I am looking for, but on the other hand, it will not expose me to what I don’t already know about.

When I look at my Facebook news feed, I see the posts of people that I have clicked on and recently viewed their profile. People that I haven’t looked at for a long time do not show up in my news feed. This means that if I want to find what is happening in their lives, I have to specifically search out that person and read what they have posted or been involved in recently.

How do I break through this filter bubble and create more exposure to information that is beyond what I traditionally look for? “In the filter bubble, there’s less room for the chance encounters that bring insight and learning. Creativity is often sparked by the collision of ideas from different disciplines and cultures.” (pg. 15) I need to work to break through this filter bubble and get into the area where I am exposed to differing ideas.

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