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The Web's "Algorithmic Editors"

Posted by Josh Rothman  June 24, 2011 09:55 PM

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In this powerful, succinct TED Talk, Eli Pariser -- the former Executive Director of MoveOn.org -- explains how automated, "algorithmic editors" built into Google, Facebook, and other sites surreptitiously tailor what you see on the web. There is no "objective" internet: The web, Pariser explains, looks different to each of us, and is subtly personalized to show us what we want to see.

“The best editing," he says, "gives us Justin Beiber and a little bit of Afghanistan; it gives us some information vegetables, it gives us some information dessert.” Algorithmic editors, on the other hand, show us only what pandering computer programs, without the "embedded ethics" of human editors, imagine that we'll enjoy. They prevent us from being our best selves.

Pariser's book, The Filter Bubble, was reviewed in the Globe last week. On his website, Pariser offers "10 Ways to Pop Your Filter Bubble."

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
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