The Internet is as vast as the galaxy is large. Well, maybe not that big, but at nearly 8 billion web pages, it’s close. With 711,111,000 sites vying for your clicks when you type “pizza” into Google, how are you expected to find what you want? Some search engines help by catering results to what you’ve clicked on in the past. With the advent of G+ and rise of location based searches, the results you see are as relevant as ever. For instance, when I search pizza, I’m treated to a number of local links, many that I’ve visited before. But maybe I don’t like those pizza places? I appreciate Google keeping me in my comfort zone, but I need to spread my wings (and palate) and visit other pizza places.
It’s not just search engines catering results. On Facebook, if you start typing a name into the search box, results will appear before you finished your query, and, often times, they are eerily right. As the folks at The Keesh discovered, Facebook is loading a file called first_degree.php that automatically displays the friends you interact with most. The Keesh even developed a bookmarklet that exposes Facebook friend ranking.
Even Yahoo caters content to you.
While this is often times convenient, there are a few issues which Eli Pariser talks about in the embedded TED Talk below.
Pariser talks about how different folks see different results depending on their Internet habits. In the search bubble you may not be exposed to new thoughts or opinions. The results can stagnate. If your tastes change your searches may take a while to catch up. It’s an interesting concept, and a problem that you may not have known existed.
There’s a few ways to pop the filter bubble. Matt Cutts of Google responded to the Ted talk to let people know that by adding “&pws=0″ to the end of search URLs, you’ll remove any personal bias. You can read more about what Cutts has to say here. Additionally, you can avoid personal bias by browsing privately or using search engines like DuckDuckGo
At Pikimal we don’t assume much of anything. We only assume that you’re on our site because you want to find the best product according to criteria that you determine. We aren’t trying to protect you in some bubble or net, and we certainly haven’t hired a swami to help predict the results you want. That’s just incredulous.
It’s our mission to help improve search and I hope you learned a little something from this post. Feel free to share your thoughts or personal experience in the comments.