Can Tech Break Us Out of Our Bubbles?

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The Internet has created an abundance of information and entertainment, and it is great.

But we don’t yet have the right ways to find movies, books, music, information and activities that we might like – and especially those that push us out of our comfort zones.

Cracking the best ways to discover new things in our online abundance is a technology challenge – but also a human. For this it is necessary that we expose ourselves to ideas and entertainment which are not necessarily compatible with our status quo.

I hope we can. It is a way of making our life complete.

Call me Cornie, but I’m still amazed that the online world comes to our door. We can leave it at World class chess players on twitch, search Products of Black Owned BusinessesListen people Debate on nuclear power at the clubhouse or Play around with a Polaroid-like photo app.

this is amazing. But we can experience it only when we know it exists and feel compelled to take it out. Enter the computer.

Online services such as YouTube, Netflix and TikTok, which you have already watched or its computer system have understood your tastes and then suggest the same. Websites like Facebook and Twitter tell you what your friends like or content that many others already find attractive.

There are drawbacks to those approaches. One of the great things is that they encourage us to stay inside ourselves Bubble. We keep following what we already know and like, either by our own inclination or by designing internet sites. (Counterpoint: Some research has suggested that social media exposes people to a broader view.)

More ideas, more stuff to entertain us – and more possible ways to confirm what we already believe or should be steering by those who run algorithm machines. This was a reality before the Internet, but now it has increased.

What is the solution for this? I’m not sure My colleague kevin rose told me It is important to understand the ways in the last year that Internet congestion or computer systems may affect our choices. Instead of relying on computerized suggestions, Kevin said, he turns off the autoplay option in YouTube’s video settings and creates his own music playlist on Spotify.

I appreciate ideas for combining computer-aided search with experts who can push you in a new direction. Spotify has song playlists created by experts. Apple Editors Surface news article Suggest more Apps For people to try. I want to do many more experiments like these.

News organizations including Buzzfeed News And the new York Times Projects have been tried to expose readers to opposing viewpoints. Facebook talked about a similar idea for recommending online forums, which people usually can’t encounter, The Wall Street Journal Reported Last year.

Finding stuff that is different from what we usually like, we should be open to ideas, culture and variations that challenge and surprise us. I wonder if most people have the desire or time to do so.

In a sea of ​​online abundance, I often retreat from the people I know and the experts on tried and true: word-of-mouth recommendations. When I am looking for a new book, I ask bookish friends or read professional reviewers.

I don’t think I trust online congestion or algorithms, but I’m missing it. It feels like the surprise is right at my fingertips, and I can’t reach it.

We want to hear from readers on this! How do you search for new books, music, information and activities? Tell us what you like about digital ways of finding new stuff, and what you think is missing. You can reach us ontech@nytimes.com


lead you

Some Take On readers reported that they were angry About Thursday’s newspaper On the long road to proposed regulations that would force Internet service providers to treat all online content on the same rung.

I described the fight over the rules to define this theory of Net Neutrality as “pointless” and I think those who advocated Net Neutrality felt that I was going to glib.

This was a fair criticism. What I was trying to convey was exhaustion. The current round of fights over net neutrality regulation goes back to at least 2008. Attempts at this have made me pessimistic about the possibility of any new regulations or restrictions that may prevent the downfall of our digital world.

My colleague Cecilia Kang and I discussed the relative importance of net neutrality compared to other technology policies, including effective rules for online expression and the impact of technology superpowers.

A valid Pushback from ivan greer, A deputy director for the digital rights group Fight for the Future, is that if people are concerned about Big Tech, ensuring net neutrality in the law is necessary to control their power.

I will say one more thing about internet regulation. I am angry every day that so many Americans – especially Black and latino people And Houses in rural areas – Cannot access or afford the Internet. (There is a new article about Cecilia An Emergency Federal Subsidy for Home Internet Access.)

I am also angry that Americans (and Canadians!) Pay more for worse Internet and cellphone service than they do in most other wealthy countries.

These are complex problems that have no easy solution. But in my view, they are partial symptoms of America’s failures to establish effective telecommunications policies and hold internet and phone providers accountable for their promises over several decades. And those companies deserve a big measure of blame to overcome problems and fight tooth and nail on any regulation.


  • Recycled: I make fun of internet companies for stealing the views of others or making trivial things. But my colleagues Kate Conger and Taylor Lorenz actually wrote about fresh concepts From twitter And a Photo app start-up called Dispo.

  • Military original customers for Silicon Valley were: Some large US tech companies have recently quit working with the US military, partly due to employee complaints. My colleague Cad Metz reports on small companies that are Doing business with government agencies and the Pentagon With technology, like a self-piloting drone.

  • Acting Rumba “drunkard”: A software update for some models of robotic vacuum cleaners Make them work strange, Repeatedly Bang in the walls.

Dwayne Reid, a teacher, writer and rapper in Chicago, Made a music video Encouraging children to wear face masks. It is very attractive. (Thanks to my colleague Natasha Singer for sharing this.)


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