Wednesday, November 6, 2013


a) What new information did you learn from the video?

This video IMMEDIATELY reminded me of XKCD's Umwelt (by Mr. Munroe's definition, "Umwelt is the idea that because their senses pick up on different things, different animals in the same ecosystem actually live in very different worlds. Everything about you shapes the world you inhabit--from your ideology to your glasses prescription to your web browser.") The page I linked to actually displays one of about 40 comic strips; the one shown to you is determined by your computer model, your OS, your browser, your window size, your location, even how you navigated to the site. I thought it was a pretty cool novelty... until I watched the "Filter Bubbles" video and realized, "OHMYGAHD. IT'S UMWELT. Except it's real and it's EVIL."

b) How does this information make you think differently about what you see online?

This makes me feel like I can't trust the Internet anymore, especially since I use Chrome... that means Google can see EVERYTHING I DO, not just my Google searches... oh god >.<

c) What questions does this video raise about the Internet in general?

I was aware that services like Adsense were collecting information about me based on the sites I visit, given the obvious evidence of whenever I visit a shopping website (for example, my favorite clothing brand Express) I get ads for that brand (and sometimes related brands) for a few weeks. However, I was convinced that Adsense was doing a pretty crappy job of it. For example: I go to, therefore I am an 18-24 year old female who likes Express in particular and fashion in general, therefore I get ads for Express clothing and a few other clothing brands. I visit a lot of anime websites, therefore I am an 18-24 year old heterosexual male who likes Asia, therefore I get ads for Asian women from Everything is really direct and isolated from everything else. It seems to me like it wouldn't be that hard for Adsense to put 2 and 2 together, and conclude from my browsing activity at BOTH websites that I am an 18-24 year old female who likes Asia, and therefore give me ads for Asian men, not women. Even better, I like fashion and Asia, so why not show me ads for Asian clothing companies? C'mon Adsense, I'm not clicking on the Asian women! Haven't you figured it out yet? Aren't you trying to make money off of me?

However, I realize that Adsense is only what I can see; this video raises the question of how my online experience is altered in ways I CAN'T see. The problem is that I don't know what I don't know, and that bothers me. Especially since I've used Google countless times for some EXTREMELY IMPORTANT searches, given that none of my doctors have been able to cure me (obviously, I'm still hiccupping) and I've basically resorted to doing my own research and trying to figure it out myself in my spare time. If there's something that I've missed because it's been "filtered out," I would be really really really mad, let's put it that way.

d) How can you improve the effectiveness of your searches?

I can... install the DuckDuckGo extension for Chrome! Hey look! I just did :D

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