Filter Bubble Representation

#1 Introduction

Jostijn Ligtvoet — CC BY NC ND

Filter bubbles, filter bubbles, filter bubbles… We heard a lot about this concept the last couple of months. Well, to demystify it (a bit), I’m writing my master thesis on the topic. More precisely, I’ll try, with Camille Roth (my supervisor), to represent the filter bubbles on Twitter.

The master thesis is part of my master in Information architecture at the ENS of Lyon. I want to thank Camille, the Algodiv team and the Marc Bloch Center in Berlin for the warm welcomes!

I would like an will try to do my best to write at least one article a month here on Medium to describe and discuss my work and process. Feel free to comment :)

What is the Algodiv project ?

“Algodiv is an interdisciplinary research project focusing on the question of information diversity in online communities and the web, with an additional focus on the effect of algorithms and algorithmic practices.

Funded by ANR from 2016 until 2019, the consortium essentially gathers sociologists and computer scientists who will adopt a mix of qualitative and quantitative approaches on a variety of web environments, from blog and micro-blog ecosystems to social media platforms, through wikis and image- and article-sharing websites.” (source)

Context

United States presidential election, 2016. People started to talk massively (haha, this is a #filterbubble sentence) about the lack of diversity of our news and information landscape, mainly because of Facebook. Their algorithms (and Google’s too) are possibly creating echo chambers, in which people only see personnalized and (political, etc.) non-challenging content.

Eli Pariser published a book, The Filter Bubble, what the Internet is hiding from you in 2011 to attack GAFA and the recommender systems. But are algorithms really responsible of our filter bubble? Don’t we have some without any help of Facebook & co.? Yes we have, definitely.

Look around you: your friends, your favorite books, movies, newspapers, and politicians are shaping your bubble. It’s quite hard to talk about some controversial topic with people with a totally opposite point of view, isn’t it?

Goal(s)

With this research, I’ll not reveal the impact of the algorithms on our bubble… but I’ll try to show you what a filter bubble is, especially on Twitter. So, you’ll have clues to understand the potential risks of recommender systems and maybe try to avoid them.

Well, I really think the www should be an open space #serendipity #ubiquity !!

In the next article, I’ll explain my process, where I’m now and on what I’m struggling.