Posts tagged ‘Google’

July 10, 2011

A Web of One

by Vince

I finished last week Eli Pariser’s book The Internet Bubble. His above TED talk is captioned as follows:

As web companies strive to tailor their services (including news and search results) to our personal tastes, there’s a dangerous unintended consequence: We get trapped in a “filter bubble” and don’t get exposed to information that could challenge or broaden our worldview. Eli Pariser argues powerfully that this will ultimately prove to be bad for us and bad for democracy.

His TED talk essentially captures the main points found in his 250 page book. What he doesn’t cover in those 9 minutes of talking is some background on the engineers and technological goliaths currently taking the internet by storm. He delves into their dreams for the internet (Google hopes to one day not even have a search bar but have an algorithm so good that it knows what we want to search for) and how this new era of internet and social networking is guissed as transparently democratic but is mostly shadowed by ever changing privacy settings and our data (info we share, links we click on, et al.) sold to creepy third party entities.

Pariser’s caveat regarding personalization as contrary to creative, serendipitous living (as well as democracy) is half truth and half inflated out of fear. While our Facebook newsfeeds are taylored by algorithisms that direct us towards things we “may” be interested in (based on what we click on or search for), personalization is personalized for each of us. What I mean is this: if you use Yahoo news as a daily source for news or even Facebook (which believe it or not is rising rather quickly as a place where plethora of people find out the news), you most likely will receive some skewed results. However, if you are similar to me in that I find my news via blogs (all set up through Google Reader), my personalization will be different from yours. Seventy percent (give or take) of the blogs or news sources I check can be classified as left of center. That itself lends towards a personalized experience that differs from a daily intake of The Blaze, The New York Post, and Fox News. With blogs, I choose which to read based on what I like and the quality. These blogs I check do not (yet) personalize what they present to me and the rest of their viewers. You have no choice in that matter, according to Pariser, when you look for the day’s news on Google or Facebook.

One other note: I experimented with another computer (both logged in to our Google accounts) in Google searching the following terms: BP, Barack Obama, dogs, and horses. Each of our results had the same front page results as well as total number of results. This doesn’t conclusively refute Pariser’s argument that everyone has a different Google search experience but goes to show that this whole Brave New World-type internet bubble is not as scary as he may crack it up to be.

June 23, 2011

The Energy Expenditure of Internet Usage

by Vince

This is an interesting short video titled “How Green Is Your Internet?”


Hungry Beast‘s Dan Ilic explores the facts and figures behind the oft ignored energy expenditure of Internet usage.

June 4, 2011

Google Images

by Vince

seems to be evolving. Google has a mind of its own.

 If you add words like “photos”, “pictures”, and “images” to a query, that means you’re probably not looking for a blog post or video. Showing more images on the main search results page makes it just that much faster to find the image you’re looking for. For example, in a search for [nebula pictures], instead of just three or four pictures at the top of the results, now you’ll find more than a dozen beautiful pictures filling up most of the page.

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May 16, 2011

Algorithms Shaping Out Internet Experiences

by Vince

This is a pretty interesting video:

The Filter Bubble author Eli Pariser gives an illuminating TED talk on the dangers of online personalization algorithms that limit our worldview by attempting to predict our interests.

March 5, 2011

Bookmarks Are Not Forever

by Vince

I have been roving through Google Chrome’s top rated extensions this weekend. They have so many extensions that fit my little desires that I could never put into words. Here’s one, for example. Bookmark Sentry scans all of your bookmarks for duplicates, dead links, and other errors. It found roughly 150+ dead links in my bookmark collection. Some of them, unfortunately, were good YouTube videos. Their author accounts were deleted for copyright infringements.
This experience leads me to see that internet bookmarks are almost one in the same with computers – both fleeting and ephemeral tech toys.

February 18, 2011

Glenn Beck and Google

by Vince

We all know of Glenn Beck at this point. We know that he can incite vile hatred, violence, and his big one: paranoia. Lately, he said he wouldn’t use Google anymore because he believes it has government (American, that is) ties and was somehow responsible for the overthrow of the Mubarak regime in Egypt:

“I’m really not sure that I want my search engine involved in government overthrows, good or bad,”Beck said on his Fox show. “There is a strange thing going on with this search engine and our government. And we all have to choose who we do business with.”

If you actually break down his theories, you would never even believe him.

Steve Benen gives a backdrop:

Wael Ghonim is the head of Google’s marketing for the Middle East and North Africa, and he also helped organize Egyptian protestors during the recent uprising. The Mubarak government arrested Ghonim in late January and held him blindfolded for 11 days. Upon his release, Ghonim, seen as a hero, helped further inspire those demonstrating against their government.

Google is for freedom of speech as China, Iran, and now Egypt are against it. Each of those countries during one period of uprising, demonstrations, or something else has blacked out its internet and forced its people to communicate to the outside world via fax machines. I am sorry to burst Beck’s bubble, but many people, including those who work at Google (who, I might add, are not robots; they have emotions and thoughts, just like us) were against the Mubarak regime. Glenn Beck’s own “university” and TV show supports gold and many right-wing politico’s and groups. Does that make him untrustworthy? It all depends on who you ask, of course.

Steven Taylor wraps it up for us:

This presentation is typical Beck:  vague and ominous with just enough bits of information tossed in to sound like maybe he knows what he is talking about.

Taylor’s advice could just about apply to anything Glenn Beck.

January 7, 2011

Spokeo Has Us Captured

by Vince

A friend of MJ’s and I had a Facebook status warning others about Here is the message:

There’s a site called that’s a new online USA phone book with your personal info. Everything from pics you’ve posted on Facebook or web, your credit score, home value and pix, income, age, children,etc. Remove yourself by searching for your name, copy the URL of your page, then go to the bottom of the page, click the Privacy button to remove yourself.

I used a secondary email of mine to remove MJ and I. This is beyond creepy.

(thanks E)

December 23, 2010

‘Obamacare’ as a Pejorative Term

by Vince

It seems that the term Obamacare, in either open or guised ways, is used as a pejorative term. Why does it irk me when the term Obamacare is used?  I feel it is a non-neutral / condescending term that, yes, polarizes the conversation. Again, a great question is this: has the term Obamacare ever been used without a sneer? As the reader cited says, Obamacare is almost used by some media outlets as a slur:

Just about the as often as “conservatives” say “liberal” and mean something nice, do they say “Obamacare” and mean something non-judgemental.

Another great example of what happens with the term Obamacare:

Google the term “Obamacare.” The first result is a Wikipedia page mentioning its pejorative connotation. The second result? “The Truth About Obamacare.” The third? A YouTube video of a group that doesn’t like the law. The fourth? “20 Ways Obamacare will take away our freedoms.” Why is it pejorative? It is used pejoratively.

Try also Google Image searching Obamacare.

I may be too sensitive, I suppose. I am one for open conversations. If a term such as Obamacare is used, I want to know if it is used with pejorative motives. I am all for talking out the issue of health care in America, but the widespread usage of Obamacare jump starts conversations in a polarized direction.

In the end, I might as well inspect the words I use or let roam through my head.

December 13, 2010

Unemployment Benefits

by Vince

Ezra Klein has a straightforward piece on unemployment benefits. Both of his charts/graphs are helpful, too.

It is helpful, if you talk about this, to be clear when addressing “the unemployed”. Beyond that terming resulting in an inhumane description, there are many Americans who go to job fairs or actively pursue jobs but to no avail. Remember: there are on average 5 applicants for every 1 job available.  Extending unemployment benefits, in many cases, keeps not only the recepient afloat but the businesses they shop at each week for their food, gas, and other necessities. Essentially, if you cut off the unemployment benefits in a draconian manner, you cut off the businesses. Please, let’s not lose reality and humanity in this discussion. How often does that happen with immigration, health care, and Islam?

Google has a great tool that allows you to look up each state, county, and region‘s unemployment rates.

December 5, 2010

Sunday Reads

by Vince
November 19, 2010

Senator Obama Circa 2007

by Vince

Take an hour.

Illinois Senator and 2008 Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama visits Google’s Mountain View, CA, headquarters to deliver his innovation agenda, speak with Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and take questions from Google employees. This event took place on November 14, 2007, as part of the Candidates@Google series.

November 15, 2010

Facebook Disconnect

by Vince

Google Chrome now offers an extension that disallows you from clicking ‘like” at the bottom of any article or item on the internet. This option at the bottom of over 1 million websites notifies Facebook when you go to a certain website. It basically has in a type of connection between Facebook and say a New York Times article. Use Google Chrome and stop those connections with this extension.

September 14, 2010

Your Brain on Google

by Vince

Hat tip: swissmiss

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June 18, 2010

Google reading your mind

by Vince

Carr is excited yet creeped out by the innovations of Google:

Software programmers are taking the displacement of personal agency to a new level. Relentlessly focused on making their programs more “user friendly,” they’re scripting the intimate processes of intellectual inquiry and even social attachment. We follow their scripts when we click on one of Google’s keyword suggestions, and we follow them when we select from a list of categories to describe ourselves and our relationships on Facebook. These choices are convenient, but they’re not our own. They’re generalizations masquerading as personalizations.