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The Filter Bubble: What The Internet Is Hiding From You [Paperback]

Eli Pariser
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

23 Jun 2011

Imagine a world where all the news you see is defined by your salary, where you live, and who your friends are. Imagine a world where you never discover new ideas. And where you can't have secrets.

Welcome to 2011.

Google and Facebook are already feeding you what they think you want to see. Advertisers are following your every click. Your computer monitor is becoming a one-way mirror, reflecting your interests and reinforcing your prejudices.

The internet is no longer a free, independent space. It is commercially controlled and ever more personalised. The Filter Bubble reveals how this hidden web is starting to control our lives - and shows what we can do about it.

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The Filter Bubble: What The Internet Is Hiding From You + The Shallows: How the Internet is Changing the Way We Think, Read and Remember + The Net Delusion: How Not to Liberate The World
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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Viking (23 Jun 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067092038X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670920389
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.2 x 21.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 383,842 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Eli Pariser is worried. He cares deeply about our common social sphere and sees it in jeopardy. He has got me worried, too. A must-read (David Kirkpatrick, author of The Facebook Effect )

Anyone who cares about the future of [humanity] in a digital landscape should read this book - especially if it is not showing up in your recommended reads on Amazon (Douglas Rushkoff, author of Life Inc )

If you feel that the Web is your wide open window on the world, you need to read this book to understand what you aren't seeing (Jaron Lanier, author of You Are Not a Gadget )

Internet firms increasingly show us less of the wide world, locating us in the neighborhood of the familiar. The risk, as Eli Pariser shows, is that each of us may unwittingly come to inhabit a ghetto of one (Clay Shirky, author Here Comes Everybody and Cognitive Surplus )

You spend half your life in Internet space, but trust me - you don't understand how it works. This book is a masterpiece of investigation and interpretation (Bill McKibben, author of Earth and founder of )

A must-read book about one of the central issues in contemporary culture: personalization (Caterina Fake, co-founder of flickr )

About the Author

Eli Pariser is a pioneer in online campaigning. He helped start, one of the world's largest citizen organizations, and is now President of the five-million member He's a Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. He has written for the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars excellent topic, but... 23 Sep 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:

Java script blocking

Pretty poor effort.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By Martin
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
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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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
By Matt
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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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting enough read 6 Jan 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars thought provoking
A must-read book on personal privacy in the era of data science. This book exposes some important concepts that affect us all.
Published 3 months ago by GrahamH
5.0 out of 5 stars Frightening that big brother is already here
A real eye-opener for how much of what we see on the internet is moulded by what we have already clicked on
Published 23 months ago by Jim Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Scary Stuff
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... Read more
Published on 7 Oct 2012 by Half Man, Half Book
4.0 out of 5 stars good read - very interesting content / claims
Arrived quickly , new and untouched and frankly is a real eye opener of a read.

particularly interesting about the drug Aderall and the data companies I had never heard... Read more
Published on 12 Aug 2012 by Ads
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read and enjoyable
Net neutrality is being undermined by the profiling and tracking of users. You don't get "neutral" information anymore. Read more
Published on 9 July 2012 by Yay!!
5.0 out of 5 stars Taking control of personalisation
The book is not too long and is well written for the broad population that are interested in the Internet. Read more
Published on 26 Jan 2012 by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars over-hyping the new digital bogeyman
although "the Filter Bubble" is certainly "zeitgeist" + thus guaranteed to sell very well ( cynical moi ? Read more
Published on 9 Sep 2011 by Simon Mack - creative
3.0 out of 5 stars A little going a long way
I just happen to concur with the review above by T. Grant and the sentiments expressed in the others. Read more
Published on 5 Sep 2011 by JOSEPH OLIVER
1.0 out of 5 stars Pretentious rubbish from a self publicist
This guy argues that information overload is a good thing, and that technology to filter it for you should be burned like a heretic. A non-issue if ever there was one.
Published on 6 Aug 2011 by timlondon02
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