"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Are Tiny Bubbles Controlling Your News Content?

Filter bubbles. These are filtering devices created by software engineers based on algorithms so delivered content may not be identical to different readers on the Internet.

This is an education on how our news is becoming "information junkfood". News that was once screened by print editors (human gatekeepers) is now relegated to algorithmic gatekeepers. The speaker makes the point that software writers must have ethical standards (such as the print editors) in designing their algorithms.

One blogger wrote: "I knew Google searched on a region basis, but I didn't know it filtered on POV level. Interesting."

An arts blog (National Arts Strategies) put it quite well:

Eli Pariser, the former Executive Director of MoveOn.org and their current Board Chair, highlights the hidden and growing impact of online filters on Google, Facebook, and throughout the internet in this TED video. These filters give greater and greater weight to the information a person tends to look at online first. Over time the algorithms filter out less frequent interests, to the point that publications, people, and ideas are no longer presented at all.

What might this mean for the arts? The most passionate arts supporters should hear more and more about the cultural events and organizations they love. But for the much larger majority, for whom the arts, an art form, or an organization is an infrequent interest, the algorithms threaten to remove the art entirely from the information they see and their social landscape. These hidden algorithms are another piece of the challenge arts organizations face as they work to build relevance in their communities.

Substitute the word "education" for "arts" and you can see the danger of citizens not receiving the information on what's really happening in education and the use of their tax dollars.

From Technology Entertainment Design (TED):

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