Googlethink - displaced agency through the cloud


>Software programmers are taking the displacement of personal agency to a new level. Relentlessly focused on making their programs more "user friendly," they're scripting the intimate processes of intellectual inquiry and even social attachment. We follow their scripts when we click on one of Google's keyword suggestions, and we follow them when we select from a list of categories to describe ourselves and our relationships on Facebook. These choices are convenient, but they're not our own. They're generalizations masquerading as personalizations.

I'm not sure RMS could have predicted this, but the pattern is basically why he is/was so emphatic about free software and being able to run the whole stack yourself.

More tinfoil-hat thinking, but we already know that Google uses your location and other data to refine search queries in real time **as you type them** - what else is being done by these algorithms? This makes for a pretty powerful, realtime, citizen monitoring platform.

As well, the selection biases coded into the algorithms shape what we can and can't see, and therefore, what we can and can't think. This is a far more powerful form of (potential?) censorship than outright banning sites, in that it's invisible, and we have no idea what's going on behind the curtain.

from *[Googlethink - Magazine - The Atlantic](http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/07/googlethink/8120)*

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