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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 23 September 2011
The author spends 250 or so pages telling us how awful this new personalised internet is (which I agree with), but only 6 and a half pages on how to defend against it!

6.5 pages??!!! Are you kidding me? You think this is such a serious issue that your write a 250 page book but only make the effort to knock out 6.5 pages in the "what you can do" section?

The section on how to defend yourself contains no mention of:

Firefox
Linux
Tor
Java script blocking

Pretty poor effort.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 4 September 2011
Most people should know by now that Facebook, Google, Amazon and the rest are collecting information about us. This enables them to tailor their services to our needs. But we often forget that their prime motive is to make money, and information is valuable.

What Eli Parser does is to show the extent of that information gathering and its consequences.

The overall argument is that whilst there are benefits to us there are also drawbacks, such as reducing our understanding of the complexity of world (we are only told the things we want to know) and, consequently society is harmed.

It is not necessarily a new argument but is a persuasive one.

Parser has an easy style of writing and his passion shines through. The themes are repeated a little too much and I would have liked a bit more depth.

But an important topic which too many people will ignore because social media is more fun.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 6 January 2012
The Filter Bubble: What The Internet Is Hiding From You is an interesting book. It basically goes into detail on how information is collected via the web from sites such as Google, Amazon and Facebook and what those companies do or intend to do with the collected information. A basic history of various companies like Amazon is given along with details on how they use your search history or purchase history to recommend products/provide search results/advertise etc. etc.

The author states the advantages of this, e.g. when I type in `Cubs' into Google I am very likely to get very different search results to someone living in Chicago typing in `Cubs'. But it can also have its disadvantages, e.g. if I click on loads of celebrity related news stories while browsing Google news, it doesn't mean that I am not interested in more serious news items even if I was to only read the headlines.

As I said it's interesting stuff, especially for people like me who know very little about how the internet works. Unfortunately the author gives very little information on what an individual can actually do about it. I'm still going to use Facebook and I'm still going to order stuff from Amazon, aside from the usual precautions that I assume most people take anyway (like not giving your address on Facebook) there's not really any further precautions someone can take (aside from not using the internet at all)

Of course like most books written on something as fast moving as the internet this book will be outdated soon so if you are interested in it then it's best to pick it up within the next year or so.

Alot of the legislation regarding privacy stated in the book refers only to American law and this coupled with the fact that companies such as netflick (is that it?) are mentioned I'm not sure if a non-American would get the most out of this one.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 21 June 2011
The Filter Bubble is an incredible book that everybody needs to read! I've finished reading the US version (released last month) and haven't hesitated to recommend it to all of my friends across the pond.

What's the book about?

In short, we're entering a new period of growth with the Internet. The web we once knew is changing -- it's becoming personalized. This isn't always a bad thing -- the Internet is massive and we need ways to make it relevant. But what's alarming is that these new personalization filters are changing things without us knowing and they're focused on making money.

Websites need clicks and they're going to show us whatever articles, search results, ads, or data they can to get those clicks. This is dangerous. There are certain things we NEED to see, but might never click on. Like news from the ongoing wars in the Middle East. We also tend to get fed only information that reinforces our own views once inside the filter bubble. This poses huge problems for democracy and civic engagement.

But what's most exciting is how early the book comes in the development of 'the new personalized web'. It's not a historical account, it's an active part of the discussion. Eli has managed to place himself just in front of the tech wave (no small feat) while providing both a detailed analysis of what's currently taking place and where things might lead.

Very well worth the read, and then some!
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on 26 August 2011
This is my first review, and I only create it because I think I see a major flaw in an otherwise well-researched, well-argued book.

The people that are likely to buy this book are people who are web-savvy. That's the demographic this book is realisticaly aimed at. While the majority of people in developed countries use the web all the time, most of them don't care (and will never care) about the pertinent issues brought up in this book.

However, those of us likely to buy the book and likely to care about the issues within it have already circumvented most of the problems outlined by Pariser. The main problem I have with his book is that he does not once mention this culture of free (and ad-free) media that has grown with the net, and he does not provide the innocent reader with the means to become part of that culture.

If he is unaware of this culture, he is ignorant. If he is aware of it, he (and/or his publisher and/or editor) must be some kind of corporate shill.

I don't get my music from iTunes or Pandora or Spotify; I get it from torrents, and so do millions of others.

I don't get my films from Netflix; I get them from torrents and free streaming sites, as do millions of others.

I use Firefox rather than IE and cookies are deleted after every session. Millions, etc.

I use AdBlock Plus so I never see any adverts on any page anywhere on the internet, not even adverts embedded in videos. This one Firefox extension renders half of "The Filter Bubble" irrelevant because all those targeted adverts generated by uber-sophisticated algorithms, never even reach me. Nyah nyah nyah. Millions.

I can guarantee that the demographic I mention above (the "web-savvy") will almost all concur with my above statements, and are also the people most likely to buy this book.

As such, while the book makes some excellent points that are relevant to the majority, that majority will never read it. Those who do read it are likely to be like me and for us these concerns are irrelevant beyond preaching the gospel of torrents and AdBlock to others which kind of makes the book already outdated or "outcultured".

Not once are any techniques mentioned for avoiding the Orwellian outcome of the scenarios described in the book. These techniques are both easy to discover and easy to implement. I find such omission worrying.

tl;dr - Good research, good arguments, missing the most radical slice of net culture; the widespread culture of easily accessed free media with a total lack of any adverts.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 17 June 2015
The idea of the Filter Bubble is one that is both interesting and, in my opinion, an important one to be aware of. Along with a number of troubling activities on the modern web, it is a scary proposition about the future of our world. A group of individuals or corporations being able to filter what we can see and therefore limit our ability to gain knowledge outside of our own individual spheres of influence can be potentially used for very troubling purposes.

However, whilst this is an interesting topic, this book over expands on the problem far beyond the point of critical mass. This is an important topic but it is more the subject of an long essay than a book and I found myself switching off more than once throughout this book as yet more and more examples were presented to the reader.

This is a book that has been well researched (maybe over researched) and possibly something that should be read to become more aware of the modern world. However, I would argue that a much more concise work on the topic would be far more beneficial to most people.
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on 23 July 2014
A must-read book on personal privacy in the era of data science. This book exposes some important concepts that affect us all.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
although "the Filter Bubble" is certainly "zeitgeist" + thus guaranteed to sell very well ( cynical moi ?) - it professes to illuminate th ecurrent state of play in online data use, yet it masques crucial wider contexts.

yes, most people are aware of the big online media firms using our personal info for wider external commercial gain etc, but the wider benefits we all gain in day to day enjoyment, increased interaction, networking opportunities (particularly for us creatives) , increased stimulus (not all of us only look up only rollerskating pandas online ..) more than compensate for any intrusion into our lives from Fbook, Google et al. the wider context omitted is that mindcontrol , access to information - this has been in place since man formed societies millenia ago. there will always be elites that attempt to control + manipulate information and what the public see, hear + potentially think. Parisher over states the new digital media argument completely. my father (BSc hons in History) said to me several years ago - every age has its bogeyman - be it imperialism, communism, nuclear war, aids, capitalism, al-quaida etc: get the picture? Eli Parisher states time + time again in the book,of the perils of such personal information collection to shape our everyday perceptions, choices + thinking.

a seemingly concerned techie/liberal tome to the evils of the online social media/data age may or may not be well intentioned i'm not sure - but i feel its deliberately alarmist + reductionist. the better informed segments of society will (+ always have) sidestepped the latest propanganda bogeymen and continued to make their own informed decisons from a variety of media, whilst the masses simply won't care about being adversely affected by the alleged affront to their personal data issues that Parisher states here. other media such as the once ubiquitous tv has allegedly done this for decades.. we all a choice: be sceptical to what is being "sold" to us, or switch off the tv or computer.

appearing to be thoroughly researched with an impressive index + recommended further reading all US by thw way- "The Filter Bubble" still comes across as over hyping the subject (with some dubious rave quotes on the book cover also - cross check the author's fellow tech author colleagues in the index) for the latest alleged bogeyman out there. good for sales though..
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 9 July 2012
Net neutrality is being undermined by the profiling and tracking of users. You don't get "neutral" information anymore. Google are undermining what was great about the internet - but they do it in secret. It's censorship by the back door.

How they've gone from a company that didn't want to be corrupted by advertisers (as vested interests would affect them) to who they are today.

Google has definitely shifted it's views - it's gone to the dark side. They're selling you.

They have a Mossad Contract.
As well as a one million square foot facility next to the NSA.

A chilling and informative book, that is a delight to read.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 7 October 2012
A very scary book about the hold that large tech companies have over you and your data! Large companies see you as a source of advertising income, and that anything that you thing that you own, they feel that they have a claim on.
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