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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are irrelevant beyond preaching the gospel of torrents and AdBlock to others which kind of makes the book already outdated or "outcultured".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 500 REVIEWERon 17 April 2017
It is a tribute to the excellence of Eli Pariser's book, The Filter Bubble, that even now, six years on from its publication, a volume about the latest technology trends still reads as up-to-date and relevant.

Pariser still acts as an excellent guide to what data internet companies gather about users, why they gather it and the marketing uses it gets put to - not to mention how the way information is presented to us online involves all sorts of filtering and selection decisions, many of which are obscured from us.

The book is written very much from an American perspective, for an American audience and with very little mention of the rest of the world until right near the end. That's a shame because it is possible for internet services to rely on user data for their core business model, to make profits from this and yet to give the public much more knowledge and control than is currently the case in America. That's not just an optimistic statement; it's the reality from other countries. The very different approach to data in, say, Germany from the US, only gets a brief look-in near the end after many chapters which present the current American situation as being one fostered by technology rather than, more accurately, one fostered by the political decisions that Americans have taken but which others show do not have to be taken.

The other factor to consider is that, as is common with people making predictions about the future in pretty much any field, Pariser falls prey at times to the myopic prediction of spotting something bad which is happening and predicting the future will be more of the same, without any countervailing reactions from anyone taking place.

So whilst Pariser is right to highlight the risks of loss of creativity, culture and functioning societies if all people are fed is information which matches what they already believe and like, there is no consideration in The Filter Bubble of how others might react to protect it.Yes, creativity might be

Yes, creativity might be stifled if you have a monoculture of news and entertainment. But the very costs of that does and will encourage people to take counter-steps to preserve the value that Pariser is worried about being lost. The greater your fear of its loss, the greater the value you put on it - and so the greater the flaw in your picture of the future if that very picture is based on no-one taking any counter-measures.

That all said, although written in a much more lively way than a textbook, The Filter Bubble does act an excellent textbook - a good overview of the main issues and points to consider.
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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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on 9 September 2011
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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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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on 26 January 2012
The book is not too long and is well written for the broad population that are interested in the Internet. It describes how over time we come to see an increasingly personalised view that is less obviously a more constrained view. I noticed this several years ago with Google Search, results were skewed to my home country. For personal searches this is probably beneficial but for professional purposes this is not what I want to see. Amazon also takes note of what I have looked at and what I have purchased and uses this information to suggest products that I may be interested in. Once again this is mostly OK but I do get a rather strange set of suggestion since I also order for my wife and bought books for my daughter when she was a medical student. The book extrapolates from the situation today and explores what may happen. There are certainly more aspects to this topic than I had noticed myself but I largely agree with the views expressed in the book. We, the users, need to be sure that the benefits of personalisation accrue to us and not just enable targeted advertising by vendors. I have no hesitation in recommending this book.
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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 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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on 5 September 2011
I just happen to concur with the review above by T. Grant and the sentiments expressed in the others. Those who would buy this book more or less already are aware of what is going on with the commercial firms. That famous statement "There's no such thing as a free lunch" is emphasised by most of the book. The user of the net is not the end consumer. We don't pay for our e-mail so why is it supplied free? But once you know all this it is possible to join with the 'alternative' communities which design programmes to circumvent such snooping and personalisation. Most users really do not care about the topics in the book even if they were tattooed onto their arms. It's largely a book for the converted. I learned a little but should have taken it out of the library rather than purchased it.The author is well meaning but is making a little knowledge go a long way.
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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:

Java script blocking

Pretty poor effort.
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