Filter bubble response

Eli Pariser’s idea, that we are being isolated by our computer search filters is designed for maximum impact.  Since he is addressing a newly risen resurgence of a societal issue, it relates to the audience; everyone he is addressing is experiencing their own filter bubble, whether or not they know about it.  Pariser’s choice to present his ideas in a TED talk is important in that the TED series is focused on contemporary issues and looking at all sides of any issue.  In presenting the idea of informational isolation to a group like TED viewers, Pariser creates a stronger emotional reaction, one that is more likely to become a call to action.

Pariser wants human input in the filtering system.  His talk had the objective of shedding light onto the issue and calling for a more diverse set of information displayed to the user.  By showing both information we want right now and information we actually need, the system satisfies our curiosity and entertainment as well as providing us with information that we need as human beings and citizens of a democracy.

Pariser’s idea is not a new one, though he does do a very good job of simply stating the problem. The debate on how to prioritize massive amounts of information has been going back a log time.  His assessment that editors used to serve as gatekeepers and as a quality control system have general support by those in the industry.  He does fail to address how we should create filters that do as he suggests.  Current filters are designed to prioritize using previous data on what the user actually cares about, so how do we change that without simply diluting relevant information with useless data?

“I Liked Everything…” Reading Response

Honan intended this article  for Facebook users who are also interested in the science behind their news feeds. Because it is on the website Wired, this article is meant to appeal to people who are interested in the other aspects of the website: technology, business, gaming, and design.

In this article, Honan discusses how algorithms used by Facebook affects what appears in the news feed. He conducted a personal experiment where he liked everything that appeared on his news feed. Rather quickly, his new feed became filled with posts from brands, posts from people left out. When it came to news sites, Honan noticed a trend. The posts were brief, two sentences explaining an event, followed by a query, inviting the reader to like the post. Additionally, as he went on liking things, the news related posts became more extreme. He could only continue this trend for two days before he got sick of all of the nonsense appearing before him.

Honan finds many aspects of the Facebook algorithms troubling. Instead of delivering anything close to unbiased news, Facebook delivers the news it believes we will agree with, or more importantly, click on. Other than news, the posts from sites like Buzzfeed became more and more ridiculous. In writing about this, Honan wants to inform Facebook users about how and why information is presented to them. It may be his hope that with this information, we can make the conscious choice to ignore the garbage and eventually it will no longer show up on our news feeds.

Before this article, I had noticed the very gimmicky nature of many Facebook posts are phrased. This is something that I find disgusting and annoying, and I was glad Honan mentioned it. I found this article fascinating, and it has changed the way I scroll through my Facebook feed. I find it interesting that the majority of updates on my news feed are from bands, since those are the posts I like and click on more. This article made me think about the reason I have a Facebook. The most important part of it is keeping up with the lives of those I don’t speak to on a regular basis. Although I may not “like” everything people post, I’m certainly interested in reading it. However, I also use Facebook to stay updated on bands. When a band posts a new song or a link to a tour, that is something I generally click on. As a result, my news feed becomes more and more filled up with bands. On the other hand, I’m wondering if a part of this is due to the fact that most of my friends do not post very much on Facebook, leading to their absence from my news feed.


Can Social Media Resolve Social Divisions?

This title refers to a chapter in the book, “It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens,” written by Danah Boyd. This chapter is about how social media is actually increasing social divisions among race, rather than bringing them together like people expected. Based off of this information, I believe that the book was targeted towards educated individuals who are interested in the social divisions that are brought on in schools among teenagers. Boyd is trying to educate people on the relationship between social media and issues regarding race.

The book was published by Yale University Press. This shows that it is mainly used for educational purposes for people looking to gain more knowledge on the topic of segregation among teens. The book has a lot of valid information, because Boyd talked to many teens to get the information that she did regarding the topic of the chapter. The main idea of the text that I read was to talk about how digital technology that is developed always ends up being biased towards a specific race. Different social media platforms also end up being targeted towards a specific race or group of people. A quote from the book gives an example of this segregation in technology, “…many image-capture technologies have historically had difficulty capturing darker-skinned people because they rely on light…”

Regarding social media, many people thought that being online meant that nobody knew who you were, which would ultimately end the segregation. However, platforms such as Facebook and Myspace give out identities of its individual users. This means that segregations in schools, where students usually group together with people of their own race or social standing, will never be broken by social media. A girl named Kat explained how more of the ghetto students used Myspace in her school, while the white kids moved onto Facebook. This shows another way in which segregation occurs within social media, without even realizing it.

I understand where this article is going with the idea of segregation among races in school and social media. However, I don’t think anything will ever end this separation among people. Most people feel that they can relate more with people of their own race. I believe that it comes naturally. I can relate what Boyd talks about in this chapter to how my high school worked. You’d see specific sports associated with specific races, and while Facebook was used by everyone, most of the comments that were left on peoples pages were by people of their own race.

I appreciated how Boyd related technology being designed in terms of specific races, whether it’s done intentionally or not. I never realized this, until I read this chapter. I also appreciate how she started the chapter with a conversation with a girl who is negatively affected by segregation that occurs within her hometown. She doesn’t like how people associate gangs with black people. People stare if a group of black people are together and this prevents her from being able to go out as much as she’d like to. Her school is very segregated, to the point where they have specific names for groups of different races. This was a strong example of separation among races in schools and was a good way to start off the chapter.

One question that I have is, now that its come to the attention that some technologies are easier for specific races to use, should companies make other designs that are targeted towards other specific races? Are the current designs biased enough to begin making designs for specific races?


Response to “it’s complicated”

Danah Boyd’s book “it’s complicated” discusses the current conditions of modern social networking and the resulting implications that the implementation of technology has on teens.  This book was written so that teenagers, parents, teachers, or anybody that interacts with teenagers and social media on a regular basis would have insight and further knowledge as to what they actually see on social media as opposed to what it looks like on the surface.  The main idea that Boyd was trying to express in writing this piece was that prejudice still exists even with the implementation of social media.  The “techno-utopians” as he calls them, were wrong about technology being able to completely eradicate prejudice.  Many had believed that the internet and anonymity would make racism, sexism, and prejudice a thing of the past because these things would not be viewable online.  However, people still brought their same networks with them online and true anonymity proved to be very difficult to find.  Teens wanted to maintain the same social standing they had worked for in person when they went online, so as a result this same system transitioned onto the online world.  The internet ended up being just as segregated as the real world except magnified due to the fact that it exists publicly for all to see.  In writing this Boyd was hoping to make the reader aware of both the presence of prejudice that still exists in the world contrary to what some may claim.

I thought this piece was very good as it was a very accurate portrayal of the social media world that I have grown accustomed to and took into account what other actual teens were experiencing as opposed to simply trying to understand what was happening without actually asking the people using it.  What I enjoyed in this reading was seeing how every teen didn’t believe that they were prejudiced personally and then when they looked at the details of their social media lives they were actually interacting almost exclusively with peers that were members of similar socioeconomic status.  I find this interesting because I immediately thought of myself and went to examine my own social media accounts to determine if I had a similar subconscious discrimination.  What I found was that I was closer to the exception than the rule.  I played football in high school, a sport that was predominantly considered a “black sport” considering that I was one of 6 white kids on the team.  As a result of this I interact with members of other socioeconomic classes more than some of my other peers.  However, it was still noticeable that I did in fact interact with other white males more than any other group of people.  So, while I still somewhat interact with members of other classes I have mainly interacted with members of a similar class.

The major question that I am left with at the conclusion of this article is, with the tremendous potential that social media has for the eradication of prejudice what can we as teens who primarily inhabit this medium due to assist the process?


Response to “I Liked Everything on Facebook for Two Days.”

Mat Honan’s article “I Liked Everything I Saw on Facebook for Two Days. Here’s What It Did to Me,” is an experiment in manipulating the content Facebook decides to show on the Newsfeed. Honan’s argument is that the Facebook Newsfeed is created to sell things to its user by appealing to their interests. In other words, Facebook and its advertisers have a profit-driven incentive to insulate the Newsfeed by only showing the user content that they agree with.

The article’s audience is ostensibly Facebook-users in general. However, give that it is published on, I think it’s mainly targeted towards men in their late 20s and 30s; a quick scan of the site’s top stories reveals an interesting combination of articles about video games, international news, and public schools and children. Honan’s piece treads the line between entertainment and serious discussion, examining the social implications of Facebook’s algorithms while poking fun at some of the mindless content circulated over Facebook. For example, Honan warns that “we set up our political and social filter bubbles and they reinforce themselves,” something he believes can lead to extreme beliefs and an inability to interact with people who don’t share our views. I think Honan’s goal with this article was to make people more mindful of how the content on their Newsfeed is constructed.

One thing I especially enjoyed about Honan’s commentary is when he calls out the “sensational garbage” all over Facebook Newsfeeds: quizzes like “Which Titanic Character Are You?” and articles like “Katy Perry’s Backup Dancer Is the Man Candy You Deserve” that content mills like Buzzfeed and Upworthy churn out constantly. As someone who enjoys talking about pop culture, I really dislike seeing articles like those on my Newsfeed. To me they are exemplary of the worst way to talk about pop culture because they’re not challenging or productive, and ultimately boring in their sameness. After reading this article, I would like to know if it’s possible to curate “likes” on Facebook to get a good Newsfeed. Is there any way to encourage Facebook to display content that appeals to the user’s interests without isolating them from opinions different from their own? Should we even look to Facebook as a source for news and new perspectives?

Three Quarters of Whites Don’t Have Any Non-White Friends

This article by Christopher Ingraham discusses the racial divide between races and their social groups. Based on research conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), in a scenario where an American has 100 friends, an average white American has 91 white friends and 1 black friend, while an average black American has 83 black friends and 8 white friends. Ingraham uses these statistics as well as others compiled by PRRI to explain why this occurs and how it contributes to the racial divide on responses to racial events such as Ferguson. Ingraham speaks to the whole American population with a goal to inform them of this trend and force them to see how this impacts their daily lives.

I found this article astonishing. It was very surprising to learn the lack of diversity that exists in average American’s friend group, both white and black. I think mostly because I have grown up with so much diversity around that I never really noticed. It was mind boggling that 75% of white Americans only have white friends. However, after reading the article and thinking back to high school, I could definitely recall friend groups that existed that were 100% white, and it began to make sense on why some of them react a certain way when a racial issue arises. I could also reason to why some white Americans may only have white friends. Location plays a huge role. It is hard for a person to have diverse friends when they do not live in an diverse areas, and there are places in the US where little to black people reside there.

I am often the only black person in my friend circles, and during social injustice movements is often where I feel the disconnect. In most cases, many whites do not see the racial issue in these situations. They see it as playing the “race card.” They do not see the events are something racially driven, which I now understand because they have no experience or history. They have not been exposed to it. That is the problem with many movements driven by minorites. The majorities that such it down as not a problem have never experienced it or witnessed it. Therefore, do not believe it to be a problem. When Ferguson happened, my Twitter feed had never been so divided. They were people angered by the police’s action, wanting to join the protestors, and starting their own protests. While I noticed other people I followed, majority white, tweeting about how it was not a race issue. I even remember someone saying that Michael Brown was a “thug” who “deserved it.” it shows how lack of culture and diversity can close a person mind in order to only view it in one light. This article definitely touched at that. So my question would be how do we fix it?

How do we fix the lack of diversity in social groups? How do we open up the minds to those who have not experienced or witness discrimination to realize that it is a real problem? How do we create less of a divide in responses to human injustices?


Response to Eli Praiser: beware online “filter bubbles”

Eli Praiser gave a Ted Talk about “filter bubbles” and how they are negatively impacting our lives online. He found this shifting of how information flowed over the internet when he noticed that his conservative friends’  links disappeared from his Facebook. He realized he had been clicking on the liberal links more, and without consulting him about it, Facebook edited out his conservative friend’s links. This is true for other sites as well, including Google, who uses 57 different signals to personalize your query results. Your filter bubble is all of your personalized filters put together, to create your own “personal, unique universe of information that you live in online.” Essentially, our searches are loaded with information junk food because we usually click on what interests us first, not the “vegetables” that give us a balanced information diet. What you click on first becomes your bubble and blocks out everything else.

Praiser is trying to educate internet users about how these “filter bubbles” are not as great as some may initially think. His Ted Talk and book were filmed and published in 2011 (New York) and are still relevant now. All internet users should be aware of the filter bubbles so they know that they may not be getting the whole search. The main idea is that we need the web leaders to make sure that we get a say in what gets filtered so that we can be introduced to new ideas and different perspectives, rather than be isolated in our own information junk food. Praiser’s goal was to inform us about filter bubbles, because many do not know about them. It’s important to know how the internet shields you from valuable information just based on what you previously clicked on. The filter bubble takes away the opportunity for chance encounters that bring insight and learning. He wants people to understand the issue and pass it on, to hopefully start some kind of change.

I thought this Ted Talk, along with the introduction from his book were really eye-opening. I knew that sites tailored certain things based on your interests because I always see ads on Facebook from stores that I bought things from online. I never knew that everyone’s search on Google was different or that so many companies tailor their search to your previous clicks. I thought that everyone had the same page if they searched the same word on Google, so it was crazy and interesting to learn about this topic. I appreciated that Praiser realized how the filter bubbles aren’t a positive thing and informed us about the negative aspect of it. I also liked how he compared our searches to desserts and vegetables because that definitely helped me understand the concept better. Even though this was back in 2011, I can see that it is definitely still relevant now because of my experiences with internet ads. I agree that the filter bubble isn’t a good thing and that we should be cautious of it if we want to keep the internet’s role in our lives a positive one. I would ask Praiser who the new gatekeepers should be that take responsibility for the codes/algorithms and how we should go about avoiding the filter bubble as much as possible at the time being. I think it will take a while for any real change to happen, so I think we should all find a way to truly beware of our filter bubbles.

Heroes and Villains

My twine game is titled, “Heroes and Villains”, and can be found at:

Originally, my twine game’s concept was about a girl named Lucy branching out from her previous identity and becoming the hero. In the end, I added a few elements to make the story more interesting. I really wanted to incorporate elements from the class, while making it enjoyable and meaningful.

The story is pretty simple. It follows the story of Lucy, a girl from Georgia, that sees an old man crying. You could either follow the story of her ignoring the man and going to the mall, or her helping the man save his wife Lorraine from the ice king in the land of Chillings. Towards the end, you could also follow the story line of Lucy saving the ice king and teaching him how to change his ways. The overall goal of the game was to save Lorraine from the ice king. There were a few different possible outcomes. In terms of constraints, the only way to really win the game was to accept Lucy’s role as a hero–but a hero that also could use help from others to reach her goal.

When I made this game, I was trying to get my audience to see that women are often seen as incapable of being the hero or being brave. And also, the “villain” is often perceived as incapable of change. The alternate ending of Lucy saving the ice king shows that even the villain can have a happy ending. I think it’s important for people to realize that gender shouldn’t matter when looking at heroes. Women shouldn’t be labeled as weak and always in need of a male. I wanted to achieve a twist in what people usually expect from a heroes tale to show that games can be more diverse and still fun.

It connects with what we’ve discussed in class because it incorporates ideas of a women taking the role of what men are usually stereotyped to be. Women are usually seen as the “damsel in distress.” Like we learned from Sarkeesian in her Ted talk, this trope victimizes women and makes them seem as if they depend on men. In my game, I had Lucy be the hero that saves another women and possibly the fate of a man (if you chose that option in the game). Robert was dependent on Lucy to save his wife, which is different from most games. For example, Mario’s goal is to save Peach. This damsel in distress trope is a recurring issue, and I tried to mix things up a bit by going against this stereotype.

I think I succeeded in that I showed that women do not always need to be stereotyped as weak and that men aren’t always so strong–they need help at times too. The final product of my game is definitely better than my first draft because I initially had no idea how to use twine to make it more creative. I was able to have different storylines, add pictures, and change the colors in my game. The same idea was there, but I definitely made it more enjoyable to play while keeping the message intact.

Dining with Asia

The concept of my Twine game is pretty simple and straightforward. It’s based on stereotyping and it’s affects on interactions between various individuals. I wanted it to reflect how people think of others, based on real life stereotypes, but nothing that would offend anyone’s race or personal beliefs. I was going to base the situation portrayed in my game on religion but decided against it, because I didn’t want anything too controversial portrayed in the class. I decided on a more simplistic stereotype that I believe anyone in the class could relate to or believe in.

The plot of the game follows a woman who goes out to dinner with one of her friends named Fabio. Fabio tells her that he also invited one of his other friends to have dinner with them as well, who the main character has never met before. When the woman meets Fabio’s friend, Asia, she finds out that she works for the fashion industry and styles outfits for celebrities. The separate paths follow whether you like Asia based on what your beliefs are. You judge Asia based on the stereotypes of people in the fashion industry but end up being wrong about who she is as an individual.

I wanted people to understand how everyone stereotypes and judges others whether it be intentional or not. It somewhat comes naturally to us as humans to judge others on how they look or how we perceive the way they’re acting in front of us even when we don’t know them. This idea relates to what we discussed in the first lecture of this class regarding cultural operating systems. This system revolves around what people do based on the culture around them. If this norm is broken, you can be judged or stereotyped.

We talk a lot about gender in this class, which stereotypes can also play a big role in. Girls and boys are expected to act and talk in specific manors. The culture surrounding us teaches us what is expected out of different genders. However, not all girls act the same and not all boys act the same. Thus, this stereotype causes many problems for those individuals who are considered outside of the ‘norm.’ My game somewhat has this stereotype mixed in by portraying a ‘typical’ girl who loves makeup and fashion.

I believe that I developed a simple story in which stereotyping occurs. The type of situation portrayed could occur in many peoples’ lives, which makes it relatable and easy to understand. I believe that it relates to the topics we learn in class, and that it teaches people to think twice before intentionally stereotyping. Overall, I feel like I could have made the game more impactful. However, it did get my point across that everyone stereotypes whether it’s intentional or not.

Strange Crash

My game is titled “Strange Crash” and can be found at

             When I was creating this game I was simply trying to create a game that had a large entertainment value.  My first idea in regards to creating a game that would be entertaining was a mixture of action, drama, and a little bit of comedy.  I was attempting to make sure that whoever played the game would have a good experience.  The method that I chose to use in order to accomplish this goal was by adding a significant amount of plot twists and surprises that would be otherwise completely unexpected if the player hadn’t already experienced the gameplay previously.

During the design process I had nothing in mind in terms of meaning or connecting the subject matter to what we had read about and discussed in class; I simply wished to create something that I would find enjoyable.  However, after I had designed it, I realized that it did in fact relate to topics that we had discussed in class.  In creating a game that was appealing to myself, a white teenage male, I had created a game where a male character partakes in gender typical activities such as shooting a gun and killing people.  In addition to this I had failed to include any female characters in my game.  So, without even realizing it, I had participated in this gender excluding world that gaming has turned into.  I didn’t even realize that I had done this until another person pointed it out to me.  I can now see firsthand how easy it was for the gaming industry to end up in the place it is in today.  With the deficit of females in technical fields it isn’t hard to believe that big gaming companies make the same mistakes that I made as the predominantly straight white males are designing games that they believe that they will also enjoy.  So not only did my project end up directly connecting to the class discussion and readings, but I was also able to experience firsthand the experiences that we discussed.

As I had previously noted, my goal in creating this game was to develop an enjoyable experience that would provide excitement to those that play it.  In that aspect I believe that I was successful.  In terms of tying it into what we had talked about in class initially I had believed that I was unsuccessful however after discussion with others and some personal reflection I was able to determine that I had unknowingly interwoven class topics into this experience.  Also I believe that I was very successful from a technical aspect because everything worked and I was able to implement both HTML and CSS additions as I included the links from page to page, images, and changed the background and text color.  All of this technical addendums worked to enhance the overall experience.