We live in times of irresponsible blabber. I feel it with special intensity whenever I hear how even self-appointed prophets speculate about digitalization. How much nonsense we have to read. Then, I also notice how many persons jump the bandwagon, uncritically repeating what they have heard or read. Thus they promote fear at places that will only deflect from the real dangers.
For me personally, the “digital change” is just the continuation of the change that has been caused by technology in the age of the complete electrification of our planet (or something similar). Since I myself experienced said change and was even part of it, I often try to contradict all the nonsense I often hear repeated by individual persons.
For me, for instance, a “driverless” car, be it a truck, bus or car, is nothing other than technological progress where iron is replaced by IT. Basically, the new vehicles simply do without tracks, instead using IT in order to reach their destination without a driver. That is far from witchcraft – it is simply engineering.
A harmless example of how panic is created is, at least so I see it, the much-cited “filter bubble”. In their Sunday speeches, more and more people state that a huge danger is looming because of it and that we are manipulated by algorithms. Here is a text I copied from a Wikipedia article (version of October, 27th, 2016, german)
The filter bubble or informational bubble is a term used by the internet activist Eli Pariser in his book of the same title. According to Pariser, the filter bubble is generated because websites try to predict what information a user wishes to find by using algorithms – based on available information about the user (for instance about his location, history of searches and click behaviour). The consequence is an isolation from information that does not match the position of the user.
So – tell me what is new about this!
I, for instance, have been living my filter bubble since I was a small child. As soon as I was able to read, I went to the library (first the catholic library, later the public library) and borrowed exactly those books that matched my VEIN (values, expectations, interests and needs).
As a reader of newspapers, I soon preferred the SZ over the Münchner Merkur. Later, I learned that newspapers try to write exactly what their readers want to read…
When I was an adolescent, I went to the “Republican Club” meetings, rather than the “Young Christian Party” and fraternities.
This is how, due to my limitations, I maneuvered myself into my private “bubble”. At the time, the radio got me out of it. At Silvester Evening, for instance, there was the Lach&Schieß, coming up with totally new ideas and unheard concepts and thereby drawing my mind towards completely different issues.
What used to be the radio in the form of “public broadcasting” is now the internet. I communicate with other persons, read their blogs and, once in a while, even listen to their PodCasts. In that respect, I am a little old-fashioned, because I actually still do some reading, not wishing to run around with headphones all the time. But even my behaviour will not have an influence on the future. Consequently, audio will win against the written word when it comes to knowledge transfer and exchange of opinions.
This is how I see and do many new things on the internet. Because, basically, the internet is not just google and facebook. Above all, it is about persons who blog and podcast their evaluations and their lives and who provide me with many ideas that, indeed, counter my prejudices and remind me to be tolerant. And this is how I learn to respect and appreciate opinions and persons that and who I just used to dismiss without any good reason.
My friends are like me in that respect. I feel rather well living in that bubble. I could not care less about the algorithms. Nor do I see a great danger in them. More often than not, I get the impression that the internet is made to be the big culprit just in order to camouflage how massively we are controlled by manipulation and lobbyism. Because it actually makes you more free and autonomous, thus being a danger to prevailing structures and systems. Consequently, they also do not like the idea of freedom of the internet and see to it that online freedom is torpedoed with all possible arguments – no matter how stupid.
(Translated by EG)