How the web works and filter bubbles
In a nutshell:
Search engines can only search the visible surface web (roughly 10% of the total content). Remember to use the databases your library subscribes to which are part of the deep web.
Information has value! Web services (including Google) are ususally only free because you and your data effectively become the product (which can be shared, sold and utilised for different purposes).
Filter bubbles may occur when website algorithms guess what a user would like to see in their search results depending on information gathered about that user, therefore placing them in an ideological bubble.
Find out how search works, what filter bubbles are and why information has value.
This video explains how Internet search works
The World Wide Web is vast and constantly evolving. To search it we use search engines such as Google.
These search engines use automated software called web crawlers or spiders to trawl publicly available websites and index information about them in the search engine’s database ready for our searches.
Search engines can only search the visible surface web which is roughly 10% of the total content. Some content is invisible, blocked or password protected. What can’t be searched is often referred to as the deep web.
To improve your access to information for your research, remember to use the databases your library subscribes to as these are part of the deep web and are not searched by web search engines
When we search online our search results are not just determined by the keywords we use - they are affected by our location, our previous searches, and things we click on. It is a way of personalising our search experience - a web algorithm designed to anticipate the information you’re likely to want. Find out here about Google's personalised search.
This can cause you problems when you are researching. You’re likely to be provided with search results containing information you agree with, sources that reinforce your belief systems, and keep you in your own ‘filter bubble’. You may notice, for example, that your news feed in Facebook is personalised.
With developments in artificial intelligence and smart technology, online search is likely to become even more personalised, responding increasingly to your day to day behaviour as well as your searches.
The act of research should be about exploring all sorts of information, challenging your perspective, and broadening your world view. So be aware of an increasingly personalised and filtered online world. Burst your filter bubbles by thinking about the sources of your online information feeds and by exploring other sources! Visit the Research Skills section.
The term was coined by Eli Pariser and you can see him talk about in the video. There is also a 30 minute radio programme about Bursting the Social Media Bubble .
Beware online filter bubbles - Eli Pariser
How to Burst your Filter Bubble - BBC
In our daily lives we are used to thinking of information as free and quickly discoverable. We are used to entering our search terms in a box and instantly getting results all for free. But information and data have value attached. Web services are often free because you’re effectively trading your personal data when you engage.
The big online companies can discover what you’re searching for, your political leanings, your movements and your social groupings by gathering and analysing your usage and click stream data. They can predict when you’re likely to purchase something and what it will be. They can direct advertisements and search results personalised to your preferences. Your data is valuable because it can be used by advertisers, political groups and businesses to further their cause. Data is power as it is a means to influence.
The value of data drives personalisation of the web and social media. The more data that is gathered, the more personalisation can be developed and targeted.
Burst your filter bubble tips!
- Read articles and opinions you disagree with
- Fool the algorithms by liking things you disagree with!
- Comment on things you wouldn't normally read