Its been cool and damp on Cape Cod the last few days so I thought I would take the opportunity to work on material for a workshop, Web Literacy: Researching the Web for a Different Perspective, I am facilitating in July. There is a section of the workshop that covers how search engines work. This was pretty straightforward a few years back, before social media and behavioral advertising became main stream. At a basic level search engines ranked material on the number of other web pages that linked to it. A page rankings could be manipulated by having your page linked to other pages. Social media changed things, as well as, new marketing and monetization strategies of search engines and social media sights. It is now about marketing and social popularity these days and not content accuracy and relevancy.
I have become quite distracted by material discussing these changes and how they influence what we read, buy and how we connect. We use Google, facebook, Amazon, twitter, and a host of other services. These companies collect your data and use it to target advertising, rank websites and sell the data. “If you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold” (attributed to blue_beetle at Metafilter). This brings up a slew of issues such a privacy and from a research perspective if you only see things related to previous searches how to you find new information yet alone different points of view.
As users of these companies and the internet in general, we need to be aware how are our data are used. We may not leave facebook, or avoid using google but ignorance is not always bliss. Below are links to some of the material that has me thinking and kept me distracted. They are worth considering.
Things to Consider
- 1984 or a Brave New World
- For a more detailed look into privacy today I would suggest I know who you are and I saw what you did, by Lori Andrews. Thanks for the recommendation Nancy.
- Searching the web is more then just a quick google search if you really want to know something you need get beyond the search bar. Google is even offering a course this summer on power searching.
- Electronic Frontier Foundation: Defending your rights in a digital world
- How to turn on do not track in your browser
- Amusing Ourselves to Death
- Orbitz shows mac users more expensive options
- Content marketing – to maximize search engine ranking