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Posts tagged ‘imagine’

Our Generation has been called the Generation of “me.” A little contradictory, isn’t it?

teamwork collaboration us together imagineThroughout the last decade, the rise of social media has contributed to and helped perpetuate the rise of what some have called the “Generation of Me.” In addition to the instantaneous sharing of information and entertainment, social networks have helped users organize their social lives and stay in touch with even the most fleeting acquaintances.

This isn’t a bad thing at all. In so many ways, social media and the Internet have made the world a more entertaining, more connected and more satisfying world than it’s ever been before. However, the growth of the Internet and its potential to do great things shouldn’t have to stop there and neither does our collective potential to do more with this amazing tool.

The Generation of “Me” is well on its way to becoming the Generation of “Us.” The Internet and the tools it provides are like so many other of the mind-blowing technological revolutions we’ve seen throughout the course of history because they are organic and constantly evolving. No one person can steer the Internet in exactly the direction they want it to go. Instead, everyone who uses the internet and pushes its limits will determine this great innovation’s final destination, whatever that destination may be. The Internet belongs to us, is used by us and will continue to be shaped by us.

The distinction between “mine” and “ours” can say a lot about anything they are applied to. If this is “my” house, then you are a guest and you have no say in how I decorate it, take care of it or whether or not I leave the toilet seat up. If this is “our” house, then we share it. Everything I do in that house will have an impact on you and everything you do will affect me. In a house that is “ours” most decisions will be (or should be) made collectively. When we make collective decisions about “our” house, we are forced to think about it in a different way than we would have if it was only “mine” or “yours.” The same holds true for the Internet. Yes, I have my social network and you have yours, but there really isn’t a place that is specifically ours to be shared.

When people share, many have a tendency to be more considerate, thoughtful and empathetic. When we share ideas, it can take us to places we never would have discovered if we’d been working on our own. When we share knowledge we can help others discover untapped talents and interests that can change their lives and they can do the same for us. When we share a cause and stand together we are far more formidable than when we stand alone and that’s what the Internet is going to be all about.

There is and will always be a place for “mine” and “ours.” I’m not talking about Internet communism where everyone shares and nobody gets enough. What I’m talking about is a new age of the Internet and a Generation of “Us” where we shape the world together, where we can help each other discover things about ourselves we never knew before and where we can ultimately take the next step as a people.

The potential of an individual can be immense, but the collective potential of a people who understand the utility of collaboration is unlimited. We need a tool that is built to fulfill such ideals.

Internet, Please Tell Me What I Want

Let’s say you’re at home and you need an answer fast.  What do you do first? Google it, that’s what.

google results blue red yellow words

Always the first choice when you need 38,000,000,000 results about anything in 0.29 seconds

Later, you need another answer, but this time let’s say you’re not at home.  Instead you’re using a public computer at the neighborhood Internet & Manga & Tapioca Café (Google it).  Now that you’re using a public computer, with who knows what preferences, browser history, and cookies, you’ll get a different search result.

Search engine providers know a ton about each of us and therefore the results of our searches are increasingly truncated.  Search no longer just means getting the most popular results for a certain topic, it means the results you are seeing are specifically being shown to you because it’s what the search engines think you want to see.

office cat google meme search results

Oh Google, you always know what I’m looking for…

You might be thinking to yourself “that doesn’t sound so bad.  I mean it’s giving us things we’re interested in quicker and cutting out the fluff, right?”  To an extent that’s true, but there are some pitfalls worth exploring, and some really smart people are already speaking out about how this practice could be doing damage to the way we’re using the Internet and exposing ourselves to the world around us.

Admittedly, the above is a pretty extreme perspective, but criticism of personalized search is widespread enough that it constitutes 1/3 of the entire Wikipedia page. In layman’s terms, why is this feature destructive?

Basically, by hiding certain search results deemed ‘uninteresting’ we are essentially having choices made for us. This, in result, limits and changes the way we might otherwise be able to use and experience the Internet.  To be clear, this is not akin to an earthquake type disaster where the effects are immediate and the severity easily evaluated.  Personalized search is more like Global Warming: some people deny or ignore negative effects, others warn about it, but either way we won’t know for sure until it’s too late.  The potential effects of personalized search could be much more disastrous than an earthquake (say Google goes down for a few days) and the impact much more long-lasting.  It could literally permanently alter the Internet ecosystem.  But there are bright spots that are be shaping our future for good.

Sites like Pinterest which allow users to make their own choices and curate their own interests online are popping up by the dozens.  Encouragingly, many of the countless Pinterest spin-offs are enjoying success, which proves the concept that people still like to be in control.

We don’t typically think of Google Search as being restrictive.  After all, we tell it what we want and it always delivers.  However, we want content curation and choice-making to be something that propels the future of the Internet forward, not something we only see in the rearview.

Here’s to keeping it smart, keeping it ours, and including people.

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