Are you in an Internet Filter Bubble?

Have you every noticed after making an online purchase, advertisements for the same company you made your purchase from, or similar ones appear everywhere? Maybe they’re displayed beside your Facebook or YouTube feed or other sites you frequent, but have you ever wondered why and too what effect?

Eli Pariser author of The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding from You, calls it the ‘filter bubble’ the internet’s way of personalising and customising information (Pariser 2011). All your online activities are used in algorithms to recommend material that matches your ideologies (Pariser 2011). How many times have you bought or looked at recommendations from Amazon, YouTube, Netflix or Apple’s iTunes? These suggestions have an incredible influence on a consumer’s viewing and purchasing habits (Hosanagar, Fleder, Lee & Buja 2014). Netflix reports that over sixty per cent of its rentals come from these recommendations (Hosanagar, Fleder, Lee & Buja 2014).

While previously argued that the internet increases the availability of perspectives and ideas, a new argument is that algorithms used by search engines limit the diversity of information (Bozday & van den Hoven 2015). Users can now obtain different information using the same keyword, because information is prioritized, filtered and obscured according to a user’s previous interaction (Bozday & van den Hoven 2015). In an article titled Mind Control and the Internet, Sue Halpern compares the internet’s personalised search process to looking up the same topic in an encyclopaedia, only to find different entries. Rather than have a standardised search, your now directed to pages likely to reinforce your ideologies, rather than challenge them (Halpern 2011). Bozday and van den Hoven (2015) point out that in political situations, people potentially may never see contrasting material on a political or moral issue. This a serious concern, as functioning democracies depend on voters who are exposed and informed with a diverse range of political views (Flaxman, Goel & Rao 2016).

But some scholars like Benkler (2006) argue the internet provides choice and that social networks expose users to a variety of ideas. Through news media companies allowing people to share news content on social media, material from different news providers is displayed in a single location, increasing variety (Messing & Westwood 2014). These recommendations have the potential to share information and help users widen their interests and create commonality (Hosanagar, Fleder, Lee & Buja 2014).

So thinking about your own online interactions, are you own ideals reflected back at you? Or do your interactions encourage you to branch out and seek diversity? Just remember Pariser’s (2011) warning that once placed in a ‘filter bubble’ people are not even aware of or know what they are missing.

References:

Benkler, Y 2006, The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom, Yale University Press, New Haven

Bozdag, E & van den Hoven, J 2015, “Breaking the filter bubble: democracy and design”, Ethics and Information Technology, vol. 17, no. 4, pp. 249-265

Flaxman, S, Goel, S & Rao, J.M 2016, “Filter Bubbles, Echo Chambers, and Online News Consumption”, Public Opinion Quarterly, vol. 80, no. S1, pp. 298-320

Halpern, S 2011, “Mind Control and the Internet”, The New York Review of Books, June 23 Issue, available at: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2011/06/23/mind-control-and-internet/

Hosanagar, K, Fleder, D, Lee, D & Buja, A 2014, “Will the Global Village Fracture Into Tribes? Recommender Systems and Their Effects on Consumer Fragmentation”, Management Science, vol. 60, no. 4, pp. 805-823

Messing, S & Westwood, S.J 2014, “Selective Exposure in the Age of Social Media: Endorsements Trump Partisan Source Affiliation When Selecting News Online”, Communication Research, vol. 41, no. 8, p. 1042-1063

Pariser, E 2011, The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding from You, Penguin Press, New York

Pariser, E. (2016). Beware online “filter bubbles”. [online] Ted.com. Available at: https://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles?language=en#t-53894 [Accessed 30 Aug. 2016]. 

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The Effects of Social Media Usage

For a variety of reasons, it seems many people would be lost these days without access to technology. My brother described an internet free week as ‘claustrophobic’ and I doubt he is alone in feeling this way. The video below provides an interesting and slightly depressing description of some of the effects of social networking.

(YouTube 2016)

Even without research to suggest it, most of us know or would agree that internet usage, gaming and social networking are addictive (Yu, Wu & Pesigan 2016). Pria reports that 13 million Australians spend over eighteen hours per day on the internet and one in five minutes a day is spent on social media (Pria.com.au 2016).

click for the Pria report

But does social networking make us more social? Or more antisocial? Social networking sites have been accused of providing ways to self-promote, post vanity photos and host a number of shallow relationships (Buffardi & Campbell 2008, p. 1303).

Twenge (2013 p. 11) points out twenty years ago, mobiles were rare, the internet was relatively unknown and very few people emailed. As these technologies are still relatively new, research on social media effects and the Internet is still in the early stages (Twenge 2013, p. 12).

But some research shows the Internet may help individuals who have difficulty forming and bonding with others (Bargh & McKenna, 2004). Ellison, Steinfield and Lampe (2007) suggest social media may encourage the formation of weak ties however, is unlikely to produce closely bonded relationships. While Facebook may allow users to expand their ‘friend’ network, it may lead to fewer in-person friends (Twenge 2013, p. 17). Twenge (2013) believes research indicates that spending time on social media results on individuals focusing more on themselves.

People with high social networking usage frequently report problems in other aspects of their lives, such as quality of sleep, poor academic performance and complicated romantic relationships (Yu, Wu & Pesigan 2016). A study conducted by Yu, Wu and Pesigan (2016) identified loneliness and negative outcome expectancies as risk factors for social networking addictions.

While much research is still being conducted, I made a small survey on social media usage. I am using social media to invite people to fill out the survey, if you would like to participate click the link below:

start the survey

Survey Results

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 10.12.58 PM

The information I gathered from my own survey was quite interesting. 66% of participants were registered to between 3-5 social media platforms and 50% checked social media between 10-20 times a day. All participants were worried about privacy and agreed that social media had quite an impact on their lives. 70% revealed they used social media for multiple reasons including sharing videos, filling up time and keeping in touch with friends.

References:

Bargh, J & McKenna, K 2004, “The Internet and social life”, Annual Review of Psychology, vol. 55, no. 1, pp. 573-590

Buffardi, L. E & Campbell, W. K 2008, “Narcissism and social networking websites”, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, vol. 34, no. 10, pp. 1303-1314

Ellison, N. B, Steinfield, C & Lampe, C 2007, “The Benefits of Facebook “Friends:” Social Captial and College Students’ Use of Online Social Networking Sites”, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 1143-1167

Pria.com.au (2016) 13 million Australians spend 18 hours a day online – Public Relations Institute of Australia. [online] Available at: http://www.pria.com.au/industrynews/13-million-australians-spend-18-hours-a-day-online

Twenge, J. M 2013, “Does Online Social Media Lead to Social Connection or Social Disconnection?”, Journal of College & Character, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 11-20

Yu, S, Wu, A.M.S & Pesigan 2016, “Cognitive and Psychosocial Health Risk Factors of Social Networking Addiction”, International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, vol. 14, no. 4, pp. 550-564

YouTube. (2016). Can We Auto-Correct Humanity?. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRl8EIhrQjQ [Accessed 30 Aug. 2016].

 

 

 

Cyberpunk, what is it?

 

(YouTube 2016)

Considered to be a subgenre of science fiction (Barnett 2000), cyberpunk is described as a pessimistic view of the future (Starrs & Huntsinger 1995). Cavallaro (2000), credits cyberpunk with questioning machine-human dynamics, exploring the implications of cyberspace, virtual reality and other technologies threatening the human race with extinction.

You may equate these descriptions with films like Bladerunner, The Matrix, Terminator 2: Judgement day and 12 monkeys, all generally categorised as cyberpunk. Unlike other fictional works, the protagonist in cyberpunk literature tends to be information (Starrs & Huntsinger 1995). Interaction between humans and machines is a central cyberpunk theme, and authors often share a fascination with ‘enhancement’, where the human body becomes less organic and increasingly artificial (McCarron 1995, p. 266). But despite technology facilitating the genre, cyberpunk is anti-technology, resistant to further deterioration between humans and machines (McCarron 1995, p. 271). Its central themes include the possibility of machines having minds and querying humanness when rivalled by inhumanness (McCarron 1995, p. 272). See the interactive timeline below for the evolution of cyberpunk.

cyberpunk timeline

References:

Barnett, P.C 2000, “Reviving Cyberpunk: (Re)Constructing the Subject and Mapping Cyberspace in the Wachowski Brothers’ Film The Matrix”, Extrapolation, vol. 41, no. 4, pp. 359.

Butler, A.M 2000, Cyberpunk, Pocket Essentials, Great Britain

Cavallaro, D 2000, Cyberpunk and cyberculture: science fiction and the work of William Gibson, Athlone Press, London.

Cornea, C 2010, Science fiction cinema: between fantasy and reality, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh

Dinello, D 2005, Technophobia: science fiction visions of posthuman technology, University of Texas Press, Austin.

Dyens, O 2000, “Cyberpunk, Technoculture, and the Post-Biological Self”, CLCWeb: Comparitive Literature and Culture, vol. 10, no. 4, pp. 1.

Geraci, R.M 2012, “Video Games and the Transhuman Inclination”, Zygon, vol. 47, no. 4, pp. 735-756

Goicoechea M 2008, “The Posthuman Ethos in Cyberpunk Science Fiction”, CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture, vol. 10, no. 4, pp. 1-11.

Jones, S 1994, “Hyper-punk: cyberpunk and information technology”, Journal of Popular Culture, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 81-92.

McCarron, K 1995, “Corpses, Animals, Machines and Mannequins: The Body and Cyberpunk”, Body & Society, vol. 1, no. 3-4, p. 261-273

Starrs, P.F & Huntsinger, L 1995, “The matrix, cyberpunk literature, and the apocalyptic landscapes of information technology”, Information Technology and Libraries, vol. 14, no. 4, pp. 251.

YouTube. (2016). Cyberpunk Documentary – 1/5. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQaOB44Iy5E [Accessed 30 Aug. 2016].

Do you trust your information is safe?

So just how safe is your information online? It’s a valid and common question for the average internet user and one that’s re-entered the news with upcoming the census. Every 5 years we each provide a descriptive account on our whereabouts, job, income and other various details in the way of the census. Since its compulsory, its either fill out the form or face heavy fines.

But this year marked the first the census would be conducted online and also the first time the ABS would keep the names and addresses collected (Berg 2016). While the ABS have ensured the identities will be kept separate from the census data, either tightly controlled settings or anonymised forms are needed to prevent identification (Marsh, Dale & Skinner 1994, p. 35) Understandably many Australians expressed scepticism over the security of their personal details, because really there is no absolute guarantee your information is 100 per cent safe (Berg 2016).

There are more than two billion internet users worldwide and each month the web increases by tens of millions of new users (Heickeroe & Peterson 2012, p. 10). The borders in electronic communications are non existent (Gori & Paparela 2006, p. 64), and as cyber space grows, so do the threats (Heickeroe & Peterson 2012, p. 10).

While seemingly obvious culprits like hackers pose a threat to your privacy, there is also the less obvious Government department employees. The Department of Human Services confirmed 63 incidents where staff gained unauthorised access to private information between July 2012 and March 2013 (The article is attached below).

So what makes the ABS employees any less likely to access your information? Author of The Dark Sides of the Internet Roland Heickeroe (2012, p. 78) confirms employees are one of the most serious threats, their motivation could be either financial or personal and most don’t understand the consequences of handing over information. Because essentially, access to information and the ability to use it are equivalent with power and control (Heickeroe & Peterson 2012).

Just the other day the abc.net.au published an online article titled Thousands of Australian computer log-ins up for sale on the dark web, written by Jake Sturmer. Its an interesting and compelling read that outlines just some of the threats to information.

References:

Berg, C 2016, ‘If you’re worried about privacy, you should worry about the 2016 census’, ABC News, 15 March 2016, available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-15/berg-census-privacy-threat/7244744

Gori, U & Paparela 2006, Invisible Threats: financial and information technology and national security, Ios Press, Amsterdam

Heickero, R & Peterson, M 2012, The dark sides of the Internet: on cyber threats and information warfare, Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main.

Marsh, C, Dale, A & Skinner, C 1994, “Safe Data versus Safe Settings: Access to Microdata from the British Census”, International Review, Vol. 62, no. 1, pp. 35-53.

Sturmer, J. (2016). Thousands of Australian computer log-ins up for sale on dark web. [online] ABC News. Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-30/cyber-warfare-the-australian-organisations-targeted-by-hackers/7795656 [Accessed 30 Aug. 2016].

Technological features you may or may not be aware of

My usage of technologies would be moderate. The things at the top of my list would be YouTube, email and my kindle. I don’t check Facebook all the time, I still have one and I enjoy using it however, I don’t like that the only reason I know what my friends are up to is because I saw one of their posts. I prefer spending time with my friends and catching up in person rather than online.

My favourite piece of technology would probably be my kindle. I’m an avid reader and having an entire bookshelf at my disposal is incredibly convenient, especially for travel.   I’m not completely technologically challenged however; I’m not incredibly adapt with using it either. So here are some things that I recently learnt you could do.

For students using two email accounts it could be handy and save time by linking them. I opt not to do this simply because I feel more organised having them separate for some reason. For those interested see the links below:

how to geek tutorial

make use of tutorial

Something I never knew I could do in word:

(YouTube 2016)

Its called track changes, If you’re an aspiring editor or author and you haven’t heard of Microsoft’s track changes you may want to check it out.  To turn it on simply:

  1.  Click on the Review tab
  2. Switch to on, the option is slightly to the left.

Now you can edit your document and any changes made will appear in red mark-ups, you can also leave comments. At the end of your editing process you can enter the Review tab and either accept or reject the changes or keep editing. To turn track changes off, use the same process you used to switch it on. Happy editing.

There are so many things you can do on google. To google like a superstar watch the video below:

(YouTube 2016)

References:

YouTube. (2016). How to use google search like a professional user. Tips & Tr. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DahGSReGx3M [Accessed 1 Sep. 2016] 

YouTube. (2016). Word tutorial: How to track changes in documents | lynda.com. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_knruAysnA [Accessed 1 Sep. 2016]

Hello!

IMG_1068Welcome to Newcommunicaitionsblog! My name is Melinda and I’m completely new to blogging! I’m actually really nervous and have rewritten this post about a dozen times. To tell you a bit about myself I’m 28 years old, I’ve worked in retail for the past ten years and although it took me a while figuring out what I wanted to do with my life I’m finally on my way to getting there 🙂

So now I’m in my second year at Griffith University studying a Bachelor of Public Relations and Communications and minoring in journalism. When I’m not studying I’m mum to a very tenacious and adventurous five-year-old named Flynn. Its actually interesting having direct insight into Gen z and how technology is so integrated into their everyday lives and learning. Most weekends you can find us exploring the Gold Coast. Our favourite places to frequent are the beaches and the areas around Mount Tamborine.

I have written this blog as part of my assessment, but it will have some interesting and fun posts about new communications technology. Stay tuned for more.