Week 3 – Do we need a Filter Bubble?

The Filter Bubble is a very interesting observation regarding search engines. I don’t think bias will ever be eradicated whether it’s a search engine based on Internet usage, a library catalogue or anything else in the real world. A search for ‘unprofessional hairstyles vs ‘professional hairstyles’ does not depict a racist search engine but rather 1. The type of people using the web, 2. Their interpretation of what professional means and as a results 3. What a professional hairstyle looks like.

I also do not think bias needs to be eradicated. Many of us choose to live in a ‘bubble’ of some description and that is okay. When it comes to search engines we also need to live a bubble on some level. When I search for a restaurant, I don’t want to know what restaurants are in another country. I want to know what restaurants are available in the city I am in.

Our bubble helps protect us from paths and places that we are just not ready yet to see or deal with and that is okay too. When it comes to search engine bubbles I feel that if you want your search engine to start showing you other perspectives then you need to actively go out into the World Wide Web and search for those other perspectives first. It lets the search engine know that you are open minded enough to accept and question what those other perspectives are.

This also goes for the saving, displaying, conserving etc. of cultural heritage collections that society/ or whom ever simply is not yet ready to deal with for whatever reason. It is okay to leave things for another generation or someone else to deal with. Someone better equipped, more knowledgeable and practiced within an area will handle that information and object of a particular culture better then someone who has to deal with it simply because it showed up on their desk or with in their search results. Our personal judgment is there to protect use, the individual from that, which we are not yet equipped to handle.

This is not to say that search engines are perfect and can not be improved. Creating conversation around how search engines work points our attention to the need for search engines to evolve in some way. Perhaps search engines shelter people a little too much and it is time to widen the bubble just a bit. I certainly do not feel it is time to let the flood gates wide open but some refinement may be in order.