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Ginger Paque January 12, 2017

Excellent timing for your post, if any of us wants to make a New Year's resolution to come out of isolation, given that we can pop our own filter bubbles if we are aware of them and want to be exposed to wider information available online. Perhaps this is another important use of incognito mode (in addition to privacy protections), or varying search engines. One particular problem I am trying to overcome is the USA-centric tilt to my news and searches. It seems somewhat oxymoronic that we are trying to get a better picture of the 'real' world using our 'online' tools. Perhaps we need a new round of search techniques, not for new users, but to learn how to overcome our bad habits. Any tips?
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Stephanie Borg ... January 14, 2017

This reminds me very much of what Mary had written some years back in 'Google... stop thinking for me!' (www.diplomacy.edu/blog/googlestop-thinking-me). Five years on, and the Captain's log is oh so real. Agree with you Ginger, we do need to be aware of search techniques to overcome filter bubbles, through which search engines tend to show us what they think we are looking for, instead of what we are really looking for, as Barbara says. As for knowledge of the algorithms, I don't see this happening any time soon...
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Barbara January 16, 2017

Thanks for your comments, Ginger! I'm also struggling to find more non-Western news. The problem is that more 'localised' news is written in local languages - for obvious reasons of course. Maybe it would help browsing in Spanish in your case? The problem is probably more structural, however. I don't think many people would take the effort to actually turn to different browsers or start searching incognito. There is a reason why we're all so hooked on Google and other search engines, because we get what we want, and if we look at Google's business, we see that their personalisation strategy works. Do you think we need some sort of regulation that would promote more objective search results?
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Barbara January 16, 2017

Steph, this is very very interesting! I didn't know she wrote that, but it's spot on.
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Roxana (not verified) January 18, 2017

Though i am in full agreement with your point on the personalisation of services, the indexing of information is equally tricky. All ranking that is not done in a phone-book style will prioritise some search results over others and there is no way to ensure this is done in a balanced manner (say, emergency services prevailing over entertainment websites). The filter bubbles are here to stay and we can only burst them via education.

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