First, let’s paint a scenario. People are getting information from web every day and since then, this content seems to be shaped for them, according to their previous choices. With this, people that have the same interest are meeting up and sharing experiences. Also web companies are giving people tailored services, based on their profile.
It seems cliché blaming technology to take us privacy, unexpected discoveries and choices. If you say that you don’t have more privacy, then, it’s Facebook’s fault, for example. But, well, you can choose not sharing your life on the internet… Can’t you? So, what is that all about?

The bubble
The filter bubble is a situation when you have this sensation of being sealed in a world full of the same opinions. Imagine this: you are interested about elections and you want to know more about the candidates. So, you search for their names. With that, the search robot will see, well, you have this type of ideas, so I’m going to show you more about it. That’s one feature of the filter bubble. Because you’ve made a choice in the past, then the machine filters will show you content that seems to be more relevant to you.
If you didn’t have the opportunity to watch Eli Pariser’s TED talk, I suggest you to do this now. Pariser created the concept of filter bubble on 2011 and also published a book with the same name. He said “Personalization is based on a bargain. In exchange for the service of filtering, you hand large companies an enormous amount of data about your daily life–much of which you might not trust your friends with.” Well, this means that we must be aware of the data we are sharing in the web. But, do we really have a choice? That’s one point of this discussion and I don’t have an answer. Maybe yes, we do and we are choosing to see more relevant content, why not?

Another point is about experiencing serendipity moments. Where can we find the unexpected? Where is the moment when you discover something really new? Magic happens out of our comfort zone, right? So, if we stay tied up in our opinions, we will be safe and flat. And, well, that doesn’t seem creative, because we lose the opportunity to discover new ideas to problem-solving. Living in this paradox is very complicated.
It seems pessimistic, but I think we are allowing this to happen. Well, you can filter things according from your interests. Why not? But you must be aware that if you choose to see one side of your idea, you will be losing other opportunities. That’s the nature of choice. And I also think that unexpected moments are not random. They should have a little logic inside it. They are insightful.

Choices and logic
Well, I think choices are related to actions, logic and complexity. Too many choices can create confusing or frustrating experiences and normally you think before choosing (unless you are guessing the lottery’s numbers). In my opinion, if we can see logic in choice, than we can try to develop some insightful experiences.

Maybe it’s possible to design experiences like that by finding some patterns in the user’s choices and insights. Well, if something is insightful, it has a meaning. So, in order to design meaningful experiences, designers need to find what can be significant for the users. And this is related to metaphors, culture, semantics and signifiers.

Is really the filter bubble the bad guy in that context? I think the bubble is something that we need to be aware, because we share our data in the web, more than we share things with our friends and family.
However, knowing one side of the coin, like the tailored-made services, people should try to find other opinions, out of the comfort zone and I think this is where the designer should be. Designers need to create new experiences that will be meaningful and this is a challenge. Finding patterns in the choices can be one way.
But as everyone, I’m learning about it. So, please share your opinion here :)

How is web personalisation affecting the news?
Are we stuck in filter bubbles? Here are five potential paths out
Has Google Popped the Filter Bubble?
DuckDuckGo’s New Video Targets Google’s “Filter Bubble” Of Personalized Results
How Organic Development Generates Serendipitous Experiences

photo credit: Bubbles via photopin (license)

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