The Digital Ghetto
Because of algorithms, we all live in a Digital Ghetto.
When most of us think of the word "Ghetto", we tend to think of the modern interpretation of a urban slum, but the original meaning has nothing to do with any particular race or community. It was a bit more general.
According to Wikipedia:
"A ghetto is a part of a city in which members of a minority group live, especially because of social, legal, or economic pressure. The term was originally used in Venice to describe the part of the city to which Jews were restricted and segregated. The term has been applied in various contexts."
In essence, it's the segregation of a group of people apart from the mainstream because of "social, legal, economic" reasons.
So how does this relate to Big Data and Algorithms? Everything. Right now everything you do online is captured by companies who use that information to find better ways to make money off of advertising. Unfortunately, the key to finding better ad response is for them to create a digital profile for each and every person to determine what they think you like or dislike, then use that information to spoon feed more of the kinds of things they (think) you like to make sure you keep reading / clicking / buying.
The end result is that as you search the web, and use social media sites to click "Like", "Dislike", and "Share" content, they spoon feed you even more of the same kinds of content until you eventually only see the kinds of things you've reacted to in the past. Unfortunately, this also means you will rarely see anything outside your Digital Ghetto. This can have a profound effect on what you see, and believe in.
Getting out of your Digital Ghetto is a bit tricky. Just like a physical Ghetto, the key is to step outside your community as often as you can. Go out of your way to explore other opinions. If you tend to read conservative media, find a progressive / liberal site to visit from time to time and vice versa. If you don't actively seek other ideas, you'll be stuck in your Digital Ghetto forever.
Joe Crescenzi, Founder
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