Sunday, June 26, 2011

Everybody Knows All

The Filter Bubble by Eli Pariser


The distinction between citizen and consumer forms the core of The Filter Bubble: What The Internet Is Hiding From You. Are we consumers whose role in society is primarily to purchase and use products, or are we citizens who make informed decisions in an attempt to make life better for ourselves and the world? The Internet, as Eli Pariser convincingly argues in the book, is hurtling toward a consumer model, existing primarily to sell people stuff at the expense of everything else. 

From the book…

We are overwhelmed by a torrent of information: 900,000 blog spots, 50 million tweets, more than 60 million Facebook status updates, and 210 billion e-mails are sent off into the electronic ether every day.  Eric Schmidt (GOOGLE CEO) likes to point out that if you recorded all human communications from the dawn of time to 2003, it’d take up about 5 billion gigabytes of storage space. Now we’re creating that much data every two days.

Retailers notice that 98 percent of visitors to online shopping sites leave without buying anything.

Richard Heuer analyses faulty CIA conclusions in The Psychology of Intelligence Analysis…a kind of Psychology and Epistemology 101 for would-be spooks.

Phil Tetlock, a political scientist, …invited a variety of academics and pundits into his office and asked them to make predictions about the future in their areas of expertise. Would the Soviet Union fall in the next ten years? In what year would the U.S. economy start growing again? For ten years, Tetlock kept asking these questions. He asked them not only of experts, but also of folks he’d brought in off the street – plumbers and schoolteachers with no special expertise in politics or history. When he finally compiled the results, even he was surprised. It wasn’t just that the normal folks’ predictions beat the experts’. The experts’ predictions weren’t even close.

It brings to mind the famous Pablo Picasso quotation: “Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.”

In The Act of Creation, Arthur Koestler describes creativity as “bisociation”  - the intersection of two matrices of thought: “Discovery is an analogy no one has ever seen before…Discovery often means simply the uncovering of something which has always been there but was hidden from the eye by the blinkers of habit.”

In 1510, the Spanish writer Garci Rodriguez de Montalvo published the swashbuckling Odyssey-like novel, The Exploits of Espandian…that describes the Island of California.

David Bohm describes the essence of town meetings in On Dialogue.

Christopher Alexander wrote A Pattern of Language. Discusses urban planning.

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