Filters, patterns and interconnectivity. The readings and videos for this week bring to light the history of where things stood the year I was born—1990—to where we stand today in terms of sending and receiving information, and how our world is shaped by filters, or Amazon and Google.
While there is much that can be said about Pariser’s chapters, I wanted to discuss something he brings up in chapter 3, “The Adderall Society,” in particular.
Filtering isn’t a new phenomenon. It’s been around for millions of years—indeed, it was around before humans even existed. Even for animals with rudimentary senses, nearly all of the information coming in through their senses is meaningless, but a tiny sliver is important and sometimes life-preserving. One of the primary functions of the brain is to identify that sliver and decide what to do about it. /In humans, one of the first steps is to massively compress the data (Pariser 84).
As a writer, it seems as though one of my on-going challenges is to say more with less. How concise can I be without losing the meaning of what I’m trying to say? I’m curious, and pessimistic, to what extent the information we receive through the web is on par with “sometimes life-preserving.” Thoughts? Surely, I’m being close-minded.
Though I appreciated the brevity of Eric Berlow’s talk, I must confess that it left me scratching my head. If it weren’t for the visualizations used in his presentation—props to McCandless—I would have been entirely lost. He says, by zooming out from a complex problem, the better chances we have at zooming back in and simplifying. I wonder how this might be applied to the limitations of our conciseness.
Pariser left us pondering the accessibility of open-mindedness in our day and age. “[…] the filter bubble can dampen creativity […] by removing some of the diversity that prompts us to think in new and innovative ways” (Pariser 98). This is just as applicable when we consider our presence as human beings offline. He goes on to say, “being around people and ideas unlike oneself is one of the best ways to cultivate this sense of open-mindedness” (Pariser 101). Yeah. It’s probably true. Shut-ins run out of interesting things to say pretty quickly. Unfortunately, to get the work done that truly matters in a writer’s world is another story…
I find it fascinating that there is such a strong push to somehow make the online world as offline-esque as possible. Of course, it will never be the same. That would take the fun right out of both “places.” For instance, I like to listen to something other than the dryer hum and bang in the other room while I get my work done. I like Billie Holiday’s voice, the purr of slow jazz helps me slow down and feel. Mark’s Spotify was playing via Bluetooth, a real bad playlist featuring the genre: Cuban lounge. Unbecoming covers mostly. So, I got up from my desk and switched the system to “CD” and replaced a burned Jimi Hendrix CD with Billie Holiday. Now she’s singing and I can get back to work. That process is something I enjoy; it’s much different than interacting with the internet and Mark’s iPhone to alter my environment.
Back to the screen, McCandless says that people are “demanding of visual information,” which correlates with the fact that “sight is the fastest sense at our disposal.” As writers, as communicators, this is something we must become proficient at incorporating into our work—hence, the Infographic and Critical Photo assignments we have coming up. I’m considering an essay about how people plate their food. More later