Eli Pariser

American author, political and internet activist
17 December 1980 —

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The personalized environment is very good at answering the questions we have but not at suggesting questions or problems that are out of our sight altogether. It brings to mind the famous Pablo Picasso quotation: "Computers are useless. They can only give you answers."

Consuming information that conforms to our ideas of the world is easy and pleasurable; consuming information that challenges us to think in new ways or question our assumptions is frustrating and difficult.

The Internet still has the potential to be a better medium for democracy than broadcast, with its one-direction-only information flows, ever could be.

The only thing that's better than providing articles that are relevant to you is providing articles that are relevant to everyone.

A Web browser is an example of pull technology: You put in an address, and your computer pulls information from that server. Television and the mail, on the other hand, are push technologies: The information shows up on the tube or at your doorstop without any action on your end.

There are two problems with relying on a network of amateur curators. First, by definition, the average person's Facebook friends will be much more like that person than a general-interest news source. This is especially true because our physical communities are becoming more homogeneous as well - and we generally know people who live near us.

We`re used to thinking of the Web as a series of one-to-one relationships. [...] But behind the scenes, the Web is becoming increasingly integrated. Businesses are realizing that it`s profitable to share data.

The word media, after all, comes from the Latin for "middle layer." It sits between us and the world; the core bargain is that it will connect us to what's happening but at the price of direct experience.

By definition, a world constructed from the familiar is a world in which there's nothing to learn. If personalization is too acute, it could prevent us from coming into contact with the mind-blowing, preconception-shattering experiences and ideas that change how we think about the world and ourselves.

When the technology's job is to show you the world, it ends up sitting between you and reality, like a camera lens.

Democracy requires a reliance on shared facts; instead we're being offered parallel but separate universes.

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