It was interesting to hear Eli Pariser talk about what he calls “filter bubbles.” Information is being filtered out without us even knowing it. Google and Facebook are personalizing what we click on and making choices as to what information we receive when browsing. This is a disturbing thought for me because I am not allowed to choose my own ideas about what information I want to view. I will not even be aware of other information available to look at. A quote from Eric Schmidt, Google, says, “It will be very hard for people to watch or consume something that has not in some sense been tailored for them.” Pariser goes on to say as yet there is no ethics embedded in the algorism. There needs to be filters which allow for things which are relevant, important, uncomfortable, challenging and other view points in our choices. I agree we need some control of our choices.
This is flies in the face of many of the NETS standards for students. Under creativity and innovation the main points are to generate new ideas and processes, create original works by means of personal expression, and identify trends and forecast possibilities. If Google is filtering what information is coming in, how could these standards be met? Only some of the information is available for the students to use. And if the filter comes from what is clicked before, it would be difficult to get an accurate picture of a users needs. Mainly because computer use is usually restricted in schools. Under research and information fluency the main points are to locate, organize, analyse, evaluate and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media, process data and report results, and select information sources based on specific tasks. Students can do this with the information they gather but if key info is filters out, how accurate will their assignments be? Will the truth come through in their projects because they do not have all the facts concerning the subjects they are researching? We have been conditioned to use Google as a source to gather information. Can it be trusted? It is disturbing to be censored for the one piece of technology which we are being taught to rely on – the Internet. However, on the flip side, there needs to be a balance and as Pariser says “a gatekeeper” with ethics and responsibility. How soon this will happen we will have to wait and see.