“A man is a method, a progressive arrangement; a selecting principle, gathering his like to him; wherever he goes.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Daily Nugget of Gold 1523
Content companies online have discovered something about us. We like what we like and we don’t like what doesn’t agree with that, so the companies looking to make money on these sites with ads targeted to the users of the sites have begun to customize the content as well. Yes, what we’re saying is that the ads are targeted to you, and you knew that- but the content is often selected for you as well. What this means is not only do we get the effects of the bias of the source or the writer, but also the bias of the site attempting to keep us there with material tailored to our tastes and sensibilities.
This isn’t really something new, at least in practice. We already do this to ourselves. The reason there are so many sources of content available to us is that we like to choose those sources we enjoy “consuming” the most. Books are written in different styles and from different points of view, and this is true of radio, television, or the movies, too. What is happening to online content, though, is that people are beginning to see the content a company like Google thinks they’ll want to see. Put out of their reach is the stuff that may not align with the paradigm of us developed by the content providers.
Beyond this quest to make more money by the content provider acting as if the whole world agrees with the notions of each individual comes the opportunity for manipulating these disparate segments of the audience. Many of us have already approached the content on the internet with a healthy dose of skepticism, which is probably a good thing. The difficulties we face are still amazing considering all the opportunities companies have to mess with us even more. They already develop algorithms which can predictably guestimate the likelihood of many aspects of our lives based on the content we click on, but if they feed us only what they think we’ll agree with, then they are building an artificial wall around us we might not intend to have.
We don’t have to be pigeon-holed into the slot the new media companies think we belong in, but the first step we’re likely going to have to take on this is to be much more open minded in what we like to read, listen to, and watch. Are you up for the challenge?
Question of the Day to Ask Ourselves
“What can I do to keep my mind open and free?”
Copyright 2016 Kevin Littleton, all rights reserved.