Rating

9

Qualities

  • Innovative

Recommendation

MoveOn.org president Eli Pariser’s text is hypnotic, and its implications are far-reaching. He examines how personalization on the Internet shapes what people read and think. Pariser’s treatise is frequently amusing, but more often disturbing. Since the web’s increasingly individually tailored content affects every area of daily life, getAbstract recommends this book to Internet users (and that’s just about everyone now), plus futurists, technologists, and those interested in truth, ethics, and contentment.

Summary

The Promise of the Web

The Internet promised freedom. The web provided transparency and direct access. People could connect directly to each other outside existing social structures. Because anyone can publish cheaply, the Internet offered new avenues for self-expression, journalism, communication and the search for truth. Because everyone had the same access to information, the Internet seemed innately fair. However, the online world recently has changed in profound, unexpected ways. These changes stem from the ways companies gather information and how they use it.

Internet search results once varied according to which search engine you used, because each one employed different sorting algorithms. Searches for the same topic on the same search engine were anonymous and yielded identical results irrespective of the searcher. That has changed. Today, every time you conduct an online search, your search engine stores that transaction, learns from it and shapes your future search results based on it.

Search engines tap that data to guide subsequent searches, providing more accurate information by prioritizing results that align with your past searches. To predict...

About the Author

Eli Pariser, board president of MoveOn.org, is a senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute.


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