Posted by
Julius T. Leisure
• 05.24.11 12:00 pm


Guess what I learned today: The internet is controlling our minds because there are computers controlling the internet.

I was clicking around the internet for current events (and quality pornography involving lizard prosthetics) when I stumbled across a TED lecture by Eli Pariser. Guess what I learned today: The internet is controlling our minds because there are computers controlling the internet.

Pariser’s lecture warns us to “Beware online filter bubbles.” As Eli sees it, “filter bubbles” are the confining internet ghettos that the Googles and the Facebooks and the Yahoos trap us in through the use of their magic mathematics-based algorithms that tailor your internet search and consuming opportunities to your individual tastes.

For example: If I search for the words “hot young things,” I’d likely get wildly different results than The Fool and Ben Leo because algorithms on the internet use our personal data and “aspirational filters” to give us what they believe we want. Fool’s first result is going to be an interactive listing of the local vegan food dispensaries and psychic healing phone numbers. Ben’s result will just be one Google map of local handjob joints. Me? I’m going to get nothing but 420 Girl pics.

But isn’t this how we wanted the internet to work? All that’s left are flying cars and the metric system, and the future as Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter told us will be here!

A little background: Eli Pariser was the Executive Director of MoveOn.org, whose sole contribution to humankind was 100 billion desperate, whiny emails about George W. Bush’s illegal presidency. Pariser is an earnest young fella, one of those 31-year-old, tiny-liberal-arts-college-you’ve-never-heard-of types who truly believes that he’ve got everything figured out. And TED is a non-profit that does this whole “ideas worth spreading” thing.

In sum: TED and Pariser are totally annoying fuckin’ know-it-alls who give and post lectures on the internet because they know how everything should and will ever work. Who takes this baby talk seriously?

You can probably imagine these lectures too: Alpha geeks with five-day beards in pressed but untucked button-up shirts with the sleeves rolled-up, new off-brand jeans and totally uncool but comfortable shoes. They parade around a well-lit stage in a operator headset and a huge PowerPoint slide deck telling everybody how they know how to get water to Sri Lanka for a mere $12 billion. They all drive a Prius and have Google alerts for themselves.

Back to the story at hand: Eli Pariser’s thesis focuses on the notion (supported with very little data, from what I’ve seen) that the internet’s algorithms aren’t “embedded with moral responsibility.” Pariser believes that the human editors who guided us around Geocities in 1997 have been replaced by algorithmic filters and that “you don’t get to decide what gets in and you don’t decide what gets filtered.” And Pariser worries that computer users aren’t getting a “balanced information diet” if the algorithms aren’t embedded with a moral responsibility. He actually says something like users aren’t getting the information they should be getting. Sounds to me like he wants to decide what people should be getting on the internet (seven years of unsolicited emails about George Bush being a criminal, apparently).

How long has this kid been using the internet? Everyone knows how to juice the stats. My 86-year-old neighbor knows how to delete fucking cookies. My 9-year-old knows not to keep emails around and to use a damn ad filter. Basically Pariser thinks we’re all retards. Not only does he suffer from fundamental attribution error but he’s no better than the dirty Republicans he emails me about with his “filter bubbles will ultimately prove to be bad for us and bad for democracy.”

I love the internet. Where else do I get to interact with the anonymous intellectual comment section elite and get fed a daily dose of Guess Her Muff?

As the genius Greg Proops said about something completely unrelated, “Maybe you should try drugs to be cool for once in your shitty fucking life.” I want to send Eli Pariser some early 1990′s Public Enemy cassettes and a mirror so he can see his own ridiculousness. And TED needs to have Charles Barkely or Skip Gates give a fucking lecture sometime.

-JULIUS T. LEISURE
@JuliusTLeisure


Comments
  1. Frank DeFalco says:

    I had forgotten about Guess Her Muff. I need to check it out again. TED talks are great, not sure why you’re hatin’.

  2. Anonymous says:

    has eli pariser stolen your ex? because this just reads like you’ve got a massive chip on your shoulder. the talk was interesting, and you’re not.

  3. mud says:

    you’re missing the point of dude’s talk. and you’re bringing in his previous work with moveon.org is called an ad hominem attack, that has nothing to do with the argument at hand. it makes your argument weaker.

  4. soooooo bored says:

    ^ i bet you did great on the lsat

  5. spook says:

    I have zero financial self-interest in promoting the following, I’m just good-hearted like that:

    Use ixquick.com for all your searches, bitches. They don’t store or show third parties your IP address, and they don’t keep cookies, plus they increasingly employ a host of other technical cloaking strategies as they become available. Make it your default engine. The ‘http’ option makes it extra obscure and isn’t any slower that I can tell.

    “Ixquick’s position:
    You have a right to privacy.
    Your search data should never fall into the wrong hands.
    The only real solution is quickly deleting your data or not storing them to begin with.
    Since January 2009 we do not record our users’ IP addresses anymore.
    Your personal data are not shared with any third party.
    We are the first and only search engine to do so.
    Since then we have added many other features that protect your privacy.
    Our initiative is receiving an overwhelmingly positive response!

    Ixquick will wholeheartedly continue on its mission to offer you great search results in the best possible privacy!

    Ixquick Warranties:
    European Privacy Seal
    On July 14th 2008 Ixquick received the first European Privacy Seal from European Data Protection Supervisor Mr. Peter Hustinx. The Seal officially confirms the privacy promises we make to our users. It makes Ixquick the first and only EU-approved search engine. Both EU Commissioner Viviane Reding and Dr.Thilo Weichert, German Privacy Commissioner complemented Ixquick on its privacy achievements.”

    Read this page to be double-impressed at their thoughtful, ongoing, active committment to surfing privacy:

    https://us2.ixquick.com/eng/protect-privacy.html

    As for TED, c’mon: just cause you, Droolius, are characteristically incapable of generating constructive ideas doesn’t mean you have to denigrate a genuinely good forum. A lotta TED speakers’ ideas WOULD solve world hunger and whatnot, if only pathologiocal greedheads and naddering nabobs of negativity such as yourself would allow for a few military dollars to be kicked over from the nihilist necrophilic side and into the light of possible world betterment. Moms and Dads especially should welcome uplifing proposals, if not for themselves, then.. for the children! ::sob::.

  6. Tobes says:

    You spent 15 minutes telling us about something you don’t think we should give a shit about.

    “There’s this really fucking stupid thing on the Internet which really annoys me.”

  7. raymeh says:

    i try to use the cool argument as much as is possible also.

  8. V says:

    So if I google “sex” on my wife’s computer and I get results in the “big black dicks” genre, I guess I should go into some kind of rage, right? Just did it. Most of the results were about how to fake an orgasm. Dammit!

    I’m allowed to comment here every once in a while, right? Maybe? Sorry.

  9. Butt says:

    B

  10. pony says:

    First off, your description of TED-talk types was classic. Way too good.

    Secondly, I feel like TED is the ‘Popular Science’ of today, with a focus on speculative ideas instead of speculative technologies. In the same way, each idea promoted is presented in a convincing, simplifed, and idealized manner suggesting it’s a quickfix that’ll usher in the coming utopia as soon as it’s accepted. And like Popular Science, it is a useful forum for thinking about things which differ from the status quo and discussing new ways of operating that are hypothetically possible, but a vast majority of it is complete and utter bullshit, dreamed up by nerds who are, for the most part, wholly disconnected from reality.

  11. mud says:

    pony – as a regular TED viewer (put me in whichever nerd/utopian/out-of-touch-with-reality box you choose) your description of the talks is a terrible generalization. much of it is about emerging technologies(T) and designs(D), and ideas that are outside the norm(E education). if you chose to maintain the status quo and shit on anything and anyone with different ideas, be my guest. but that shit is easy. the talks are presented in a simplified manner because that’s the format, homie. almost all of the speakers have spent many years or their careers on what they are presenting. if you want to intern for all of them, i’m sure they’d be happy to have your help. there is also a political element. much of the talks about possible solutions will never happen (i agree with you on that) because people who have the power to be involved to make at least some change are apathetic naysayers.

  12. Guy Who Wrote This says:

    “This guy is a dork, so don’t listen to him; I am not a dork, so listen to me. Capice?”

  13. Anonymous says:

    Am I part of “the anonymous intellectual comment section elite”? Yeah, I didn’t think so either.

  14. ow lordy says:

    more nerd talk on a fashion blog. go back to your web development job and leave us the fuck alone

  15. Brian Time says:

    Julius you are really embarrassing yourself. Completely ignorant. Do some serious research and come back to us. Cookies and spam filters aren’t what is being discussed here. The data Eli is referring to here is based on IP addresses/gateways/DNS servers that you use.
    Did you even watch the video you are talking about? Eli isn’t referring to controlling the internet, he is referring to establishing journalistic sensibilities of fair and balanced reporting that are intrinsic to having an informed society. There are alot of societies who censor their news…China and North Korea for example. Eli’s point is that we are accidentally creating similar systems of truncated information distribution by “tailoring” the experience to the user.

  16. oneToke says:

    “Who takes this baby talk seriously?”

    Me, I am the one writing essays on them. Oh wait, that’s not me. That’s you. Stop taking the “baby talk” so seriously and it probably won’t bother you so much.

  17. no says:

    “There are alot of societies who censor their news…China and North Korea for example.”

    ALL socities do this in one way or another….

    great read.

  18. no says:

    *societies

    (sorry, typo… new keyboard)

  19. Brian Time says:

    @NO: Your ‘all societies’ argument is totally general and rather lazy. Other examples of your ridiculous idea: All societies rape, so why try and stop it? All societies murder, so what of it? C’mon.
    Of course it happens everywhere Captain Obvious. It’s about keeping a locus of control, culturally speaking, so it doesn’t get out of hand.


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