When it comes to security and privacy, we haven't been abused by the internet, we've just misused it.
Filter Bubble: Them say..
The term “filter bubble” entered the public domain back in 2011when the internet activist Eli Pariser coined it to refer to the way recommendation engines shield people from certain aspects of the real world.
Pariser used the example of two people who googled the term “BP”. One received links to investment news about BP while the other received links to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, presumably as a result of some recommendation algorithm.
This is an insidious problem. Much social research shows that people prefer to receive information that they agree with instead of information that challenges their beliefs. This problem is compounded when social networks recommend content based on what users already like and on what people similar to them also like.
This is the filter bubble—being surrounded only by people you like and content that you agree with.
This is an interesting area of my concern. Still I haven't decided which I like better between tribalism and globalism. You see, it makes no sense to even know an opposing tribe if yours is comfortable and unthreatened. There is a necessary amount of distance required for independent thought and self-reliance. This is called 'turning off the television'. It's not useful to have your mind colonized by global aggregators. So, no you shouldn't care about waxy buildup or Zulu mating rituals. Nobody pledges allegiance to the UN. You need people you can trust, right here, right now.
On the other global hand, you are paying too much for your colonoscopy and you need to comparison shop outside of your neighborhood monopoly. And by gum those Russian chicks do look better than the kind we grow here. And were would we be without alternative world beats, pray tell? I mean, who eats just meat and potatoes when there's panang curry? When the locals get crufty, you have to get smart. This is called 'getting out of Dodge'.
Therefore is it more useful to have global anonymous untrustable networks of information which is constantly trolled for long tail payoffs, or native blood and soil networks of brick and mortar communities? The answer is both, but the answer for the web is have it global, anonymous and untrustable. Our problem is that we've not decided to *be* anonymous on the global web, which - when we first started as pioneers, we naturally understood to be a good idea.
Speaking for myself, I was raised in the proto-internet age. When what we cared about was hypertext because we understood that libraries were primative. All was going well until My.Yahoo started personalizing the web and then those crazy cool kids with disposable minds and income started having sex with each other because of something called MySpace. All this My stuff. The web isn't yours. But when you started treating it like it was yours, you made the fatal error. Early pioneers in places like The Well and other private communities had long and serious debates about online presence. Were you 'cyberpresent' or not? What was the difference between your online identity and your 'real' identity. (Note that this moment in time it makes sense to put 'real' in quotes because most people are who they say they are online, which is why this privacy issue is an issue. Pioneers began by being scrupulous, but now the discipline has faded with all of Netiquette.
It was brain dead simple for me to understand this vis a vis my 'racial identity'. Back in 1993, although there were black Americans online, nobody was supposed to *be* black online. The sentiments of the early adopters were generally 'scientific' or 'techno' if you prefer or... there is a whole cornucopia of identity political ideas about the propriety of online identity. I don't think anybody had to fight too hard, but there's this.
It could be said that in my life online I have been through three phases. In the first phase, mostly as a cat named 'mellow mike', I was primarily interested in black cultural content creation. I had honestly believed that I could transform the realm of hiphop through some kind of online interactive artform. I was also all about the writing, and so I did a lot of lower case, and spoke with flair and flavor. It was all about the culture and the existentials. It was all about the Representation I spoke of.
Then I found out that people were so stuck on race that I couldn't carve out such a space without it being attacked. The internet was a hostile environment for black creativity. I recall as I write this, the hostility a friend of mine received for proposing a black cultural forum from the editor of Boardwatch Magazine, which was very influential at the time. It is exactly parallel to the stink over TCB, the same whack logic. Like any number of new domains, you'll often find self-appointed white male guardians who require it to be 'colorblind' and are thus hostile against women and minorities who claim a spot. As if white wasn't a color and male wasn't a gender. And so faced with this racial problem in the way of my cultural expression, I became 'boohab' and fought the race man's battle.
There was a break and a breather between boohab and 'Cobb', and I'm not sure how much longer Cobb will last, but in this phase I am clearly more focused on the political. As such I am being much more personable rather than abstracted and talking about Domestic Affairs, from an Old School perspective. I don't so often pick the subjects and preach as I comment on the subjects most bloggers are commenting on. That was easy during the beginning of the war and during the campaign season, but not so easy now. At any rate, The Conservative Brotherhood and Cobb are specifically about the black Right, what it is, what it thinks, what it wants, how it operates. Simple.
I wasn't the first nor the last to entertain the idea and witness the reality that working through a cyber identity opens up interesting dynamics in human communication. It can blur what you want to blur and it can clarify what you want to clarify. As a written medium (originally), there were interesting semiotics you could invoke. And so I did, as did many others. We all rather take it for granted now, but a lot of thinking went behind online identity.
Here in Cobb, I have wrestled with the notion of 'famousity' as I went briefly into the domains of broadcast media. I resolved to have an overabundance of caution as far as that goes. Once you become a celebrity you require handlers to keep your image and reputation intact, no matter what reputation you seek to hold. The ability for mass communications to shout down anything that comes out of your mouth about you is awesomly scary. Editors of media companies know this, broadcasters know this, attorneys know this, but the average Joe, be he plumber or no, jumps right into the most powerful mass communications medium ever built without hesitation or legal representation. And now we are surprised that all our laundry is being 'spied' upon by entities unknown?
Are you serious?
So lets tangent off my example from 'Privacy & The Dead Hooker'. You are in the woods, alone, in a cabin. There is no cellphone coverage, no wifi, no television, no telephone, and the nearest mailbox is five miles down the mountain. You're quite private. But are you safe? It depends upon who else is in the woods with you and what their intentions are. Generally speaking, you don't get to a cabin by yourself. It belongs to your Church or your hunting buddies or your Uncle Jed. You're there to enjoy their company and solitude of a small group. Your friends, your family. Just you and them right on the lake by the fire. Those are the kinds of people you trust. Now I want you to meditate on what I just said. If you are here at the website, click on that picture. You'll see the whole big zoomed in beauty of what I'm describing and you know to be true. Don't worry, it's safe for work. Or maybe not. Maybe you'll start daydreaming and wondering why you are here in front of a computer connected to the world wide brain.
Bottom line. Your physical proximity to actors is what determines your safety and security. That is the kind of filter bubble you desire. In fact, it's the kind you really better have in the Zombie Apocalypse. The NSA may know all your online personnae, and they might even have an analyst tasked to you that's smart enough to figure out if you were joking about that BOMB you were going to DETONATE on the anniversary of SEPTEMBER 11 because now your pals at OCCUPY are paranoid about the new RQ-180. You might hope that analyst reads the context and not just the keywords. I don't care because I have lawyer friends and character references.
This also refers, my over-intellecutal friends, to my old question 'Who's your leviathan?'. What matters is who exerts the energy and force. If you can be identified as a target, and who can't, then you are vulnerable. The internet you wade into without the proper attire will make you a target for the global aggregator of whom the NSA is probably number one. But Amazon aggergates your non-anonymous ass too, as does Google. So what are they going to do? They're going to seduce your money away from you in ways you cannot imagine. And this is the television you are loathe to turn off. But even the mighty Bing, or the great and powerful Yahoo, is not likely to send men in black to your cabin. AT&T has always known who you are calling, duh.
One last thing.
The political implications of the alarmism expressed by Pariser and the Filter Bubble people are in his next line.
"And the danger is that it can polarise populations creating potentially harmful divisions in society."
Nothing with 300 million people in it is a society. That's more like a civilization. A society is the group of people you can socialize with, for better or for worse. I sense a kind of overbearing paternalistic need for something which isn't a society to be a society, or at least a polity. Since we're talking about America, why don't we acknowledge already that we are a fragmented society? You know where you don't want to be caught dead after dark. So do I. We all do. And we don't want to be around *those* people. It always has been that way, and we're a good enough nation to have dealt with every social issue. Yes every social issue. Just not for 300 million people, that's freaking impossible - unless your Leviathan is really really big.
So let us have our filter bubbles. Let us have our privacy. Let us have our cabins in the woods, enclaves in the city, cul de sacs in the suburbs and blocks in the 'hood. We all need our own space with our own people we trust, and we need you to respect that space and the dimensions of our bubbles. And when we go outside into the big old world, let us have our hoodies.