Opinion | History

What Can We Learn From History’s Filter Bubbles?

How one book created an information divide that lasted for centuries.

Joe Duncan
Counter Arts
Published in
8 min readMay 28, 2024

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Photo created by the author, Joe Duncan. The Machiavelli source image is public domain.

The Internet is having a moment. It’s neither a secret nor a surprise that we’re inundated with articles announcing the Internet boring or saying it “isn’t fun anymore.” Users complain that the Internet feels different, less intuitive, less welcoming, and more disorderly than ever. We all feel it. For years, we’ve watched as segments of the Internet have slowly morphed, taking on new characteristics. It’s eerie to watch self-contained social silos warp and buckle under the combined forces of unchecked disinformation and political pressure. Algorithmically curated feeds have bred tribalized information spaces, as generative AI threatens to worsen these divides.

Today’s corrupted information space feels overwhelming, like something exceptional that, considering the unprecedented technologies involved, couldn’t possibly have happened before. But filter bubbles are nothing new, and examples of similar informational chasms might help us understand today’s problems and ultimately fix them. In some cases, centuries-old informational divides are still with us, like the East-West Schism of 1054 that divided the Eastern and Western Christian churches. The Florentine writer…

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Joe Duncan
Counter Arts

I’ve worked in politics for thirteen years and counting. Editor for Sexography: Medium.com/Sexography | The Science of Sex: http://thescienceofsex.substack.com