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Bursting the Filter Bubble 136

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the everyone-else-is-wrong dept.
Jah-Wren Ryel writes with news that a few CS folks are working on a way to present opposing viewpoints without angering the reader. From the article: "Computer scientists have discovered a way to number-crunch an individual's own preferences to recommend content from others with opposing views. The goal? To burst the 'filter bubble' that surrounds us with people we like and content that we agree with. A recent example of the filter bubble at work: Two people who googled the term 'BP.' One received links to investment news about BP while the other received links to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, presumably as a result of some recommendation algorithm." From the paper's abstract: "We found that recommending topically relevant content from authors with opposite views in a baseline interface had a negative emotional effect. We saw that our organic visualization design reverts that effect. We also observed significant individual differences linked to evaluation of recommendations. Our results suggest that organic visualization may revert the negative effects of providing potentially sensitive content."
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Bursting the Filter Bubble

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  • Critical thinking (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nickmalthus (972450) on Monday December 02, 2013 @11:22PM (#45580835)
    "I know you won't believe me, but the highest form of Human Excellence is to question oneself and others." - Socrates

    It is good to see someone researching ways to combat group think with technology.
  • How about... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Monday December 02, 2013 @11:59PM (#45580945) Homepage Journal

    We quit this crap of trying to target things to audiences and get back to the good old days of yore when we went out and found things to fascinate, inform and enrich ourselves rather than suffering pigeon-holing. Honestly, I think farcebook, amazon and others have it completely wrong. I'm bored by the same ol - same ol. I'm an explorer and love to wander and see new things. Keep showing me what i've already seen or already bought and I'm losing attention.

  • by sribe (304414) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @12:01AM (#45580951)

    The problem here is that folks with the conspiracy bent end up having no way to find information that might clear up their confusion if all they are getting is wattsup or alex jones or whatever.

    Your point is well-reasoned. But, unfortunately, I think you are starting from a false premise because you simply do not understand how delusions work.

  • by Burz (138833) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @12:02AM (#45580957) Journal

    TFA could conceivably be titled, "How to turn up the Noise on reality-based social circles".

    'Having trouble marketing in Facebook and Twitter audiences? Here's how to insinuate your ads into their conversations while keeping their protests down to a minimum...'

  • horsedrinkwater (Score:5, Insightful)

    by globaljustin (574257) <justinglobal @ g m a i l.com> on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @12:06AM (#45580971) Homepage Journal

    I'm with you in wanting to combat "groupthink" but I don't think the technology in TFA will do it

    First, who 'scores' the viewpoints? how is one organization weighted against another? ex: Fox News should be in the tabloid/nonsense news category but because Fox is kind of 'grandfathered' in as the 4th national network they are considered 'mainstream'

    does this mean a person who goes to motherjones.com alot would get Fox News in this system? who determines that?

    i would consider Fox News a 'lower' viewpoint...different sure, but not in any value added way....ignorance isn't an "opposing viewpoint"

    2nd, is this going to be an "add-on"? Is the goal to get Google, etc to use it by default?

    because people would ignore this tech for the same reason they don't bother seeking out differing viewpoints!!!

    unless you force it on them the people who need it won't do it!!!

    3rd, if forced upon them, people will inevitably train themselves to ignore the 'suggested alternate viewpoint' box just like they train themselves to ignore Google.com's "sponsored results" or tune out a commercial

    To me, this is an example of why academics fail in public policy. They look at a problem and see human opposition as something uncategorizable so instead of understanding that **the problem isn't that people don't get opposing viewpoints...the problem is they willfully choose not to listen**

    as they say, "You can lead a horse to water but you can't force them to drink"

    this is like holding the horse's face in a water fountain

  • Re:How about... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JanneM (7445) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @12:19AM (#45581037) Homepage

    What "good old days" where those? When you read the newspaper that conformed to your political viewpoint; the weekly magazine that covered any world events only as far as it affected you and others like you; watched only the TV shows that reinforced what you thought you already knew and believed?

  • Push vs Pull (Score:5, Insightful)

    by quantaman (517394) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @12:24AM (#45581065)

    If you search for X, and get confronted with an adversarial opinion, the contrary information is being pushed at you which is threatening and probably responsible for the negative emotional reaction.

    If you search for X, see where the adversarial opinions are, but don't actually have to see them when you want to, that's more a pull mechanism and you feel much less threatened as a result.

    From what I can tell glancing at the paper their system is very much a pull mechanism which probably lowers the negative response.

  • Re:How about... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @12:31AM (#45581101) Homepage Journal

    What "good old days" where those? When you read the newspaper that conformed to your political viewpoint; the weekly magazine that covered any world events only as far as it affected you and others like you; watched only the TV shows that reinforced what you thought you already knew and believed?

    No.

    The internet before all this tracking of metrics and trying to anticipate what I'd like to see more of. I don't know what I want to see next, but I generally don't revisit the same old thing. After I bought a new camera is not the time to keep showing me camera stuff. When I looked up something on ebay to see what I might get for it, they keep trying to interest me in it over a year later - I don't buy everything I look at and there's no "I'm just trying to get an estimate of what I might get from a suck^H^H^H^Hbuyer so piss off and don't try to waggle it under my eyes for the next twelve bloody months" tick-box.

    Just anecdotal, but the things facebook seems to track and then keep showing me have about 95% odds of not being of interest at all, the remaining 5% I wouldn't click on a link on there anyway or it's only tangentially relevant to something I was posting about.

    After a while I just tune stuff out.

  • by smpoole7 (1467717) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @01:20AM (#45581275) Homepage

    > "I know you won't believe me, but the highest form of Human Excellence is to question oneself and others." - Socrates

    > It is good to see someone researching ways to combat group think with technology.

    But that always, always starts with the guy in the mirror. First, get your own mind right (as Socrates says).

    Next, most people listen to those friends whom they respect. You can challenge them to examine alternative points of view. The only thing I would ask (of everyone) is that you respect people who look at things as honestly as they know how, but reach a different conclusion from you. That's part of the human condition. The name-calling and "group think," as you call it, stops when we decide that it will stop.

    I lean conservative/libertarian in philosophy, but I avoid polemics from all sides. My morning ritual nowadays consists of first checking the weather (because of my job), then heading to Real Clear Politics (www.realclearpolitics.com) to get a diversity of opinion, from Ezra Klein and Robert Kuttner to George Will and Mark Steyn. I also love a good (read: FRIENDLY) debate. If I see name-calling on either side, I lose interest in a hurry.

    But have a friendly discussion with your friends. The old saying goes, "don't discuss politics or religion," but I say the opposite. If you show them respect, they'll learn to respect you, and in turn, they'll learn to respect opposing points of view. You might even learn a few things.

    I certainly have. :)

  • by khallow (566160) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @01:57AM (#45581415)

    The problem here is one of correlation vs causation.

    So why do the experts say different things in private than in public? What's so special about climatology that even rather small technical problems can't be discussed publicly?

  • by the_B0fh (208483) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @02:01AM (#45581429) Homepage

    Apparently you are confident that you are reading their private correspondence correctly.

    Why do you think you are?

  • by cyborg_zx (893396) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @04:28AM (#45581791)

    Just because someone is technically a "layman" in the field doesn't mean that they are less knowledgeable than climate scientists.

    I'm pretty sure that's what it means unless there's some ordination process to enter the Church of Climatology I don't know about.

    Recall the fallacy of appeal to authority.

    *False* authourity. Any old random scientist wouldn't be good enough. Appealing to a relevant expert is not a fallacy.

  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @05:32AM (#45581971) Journal

    What's so special about climatology that even rather small technical problems can't be discussed publicly?

    There's nothing special about climatology in that regards.
    It's completely normal for people doing work to not want you to see their errors; only the successfully completed result.

    The only thing special about climatology is the number of people (who are completely unable to form an educated opinion on the subject)
    that grasp at any straw to support their preconceived ideas. This applies to both sides.

    What doesn't apply to both sides is the concerted effort, by the same lobbyists and think tanks who shilled for Big Tobacco, to manufacture misinformation and bad science in order to cloud the debate.

  • by supercrisp (936036) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @08:29AM (#45582419)
    I keep reading about this bubble, but I don't experience in my daily life. I am by political inclination pretty far to the left, but I run into plenty of right-wing opinions, from the libertarians on Slashdot to the Tea Party people on Facebook. I interact with moderate Republicans at work and extreme (God needs to cleanse this nation! Gold Standard!) Republicans in my neighborhood. I have no sense that there's a bubble. I sometimes wish there was a bubble that could filter out all the idiots. Some of the best days of my life were spent hanging out with people of varied and conflicting views who were all intelligent and capable of mutual respect and civility. I'd love a bubble like that. But, again, I don't see any damn bubble in my daily life. Why's it getting broadcast so much? Cui bono?
  • Re: Viewpoints? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LifesABeach (234436) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @10:35AM (#45583373)
    The prudent investor would read both. The concerned environmentalist would read both. Filtering so that we don't offend? The offended should learn to read.

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