In last week’s episode, Leo used one of those inflammatory types of expressions that cause a gut reaction: REDLINING the INTERNET.
Redlining from Wikipedia: It describes the practice of marking a red line on a map to delineate the area where banks would not invest; later the term was applied to discrimination against a particular group of people (usually by race or sex) no matter the geography.
Now this may be a bit of exaggeration used to make a point. But it certainly got me thinking!
He said that the effect of our social graphs and digital footprints have become a sort of Social Redlining – how it works is this…
- We search for certain things (cookies record this)
- We click on certain links (cookies record this)
- Then when we load in a new webpage, the web server ‘serves up’ advertisements that correspond with the ‘profile’ or social graph that you have subconsciously created.
Anyone that has shopped for bird feeders on Amazon, for instance, has gotten the email: “Customers who have shown an interest in bird feeders might be interested in the following products: (numerous related products follow).
For most of us, this is a good thing. It is a given that websites are going to serve up ads. That is how they pay the expenses of gathering content, hosting it, etc. Most of us would rather see ads for stuff we are interested in, so even the consumer benefits.
What was interesting about this though is it has an amplifying, steering affect, which may become a drawback. It may narrow your choices and restrict your experience in a bad way. If you click on one style of music several times, you may never be exposed to other styles. The marketers are making an assumption about you, which may or may not be completely true and like a self-fulfilling prophecy you become more ingrained in the things that were once only a part of the whole picture of who you are.
I am not suggesting that we explicitly teach students to change the way they click and search the internet. But I do thing there is value in discussing this as we talk about modern economics, marketing, consumer behavior and technology (media) literacy.
image found in Wikipedia article • originally from the National Archives
Reviewing an article about Google’s unifying their multitude of services has particular relevance to this idea. One of the results of this recent change in policy is to unite the data they generate to create what will certainly be one of the biggest databases of human activity and interests ever created.
So can your social graph turn into a sort of Redlining of the Internet? What do your clicks and searches say about you?
I am thinking again about what are 21st century skills in a broad sense... one of them is most certainly tagging, keywording and other side of that coin is searching. While there are some fascinating stabs at visual search engines such as Tin Eye, most of the searching (or Googling) that we do is reliant on Words. Vocabulary. Language. Diction. Terminology. Phraseology. Nomenclature. Terms. Expressions. Parlance. Idiom. Jargon. Vernacular.
You get the idea, right?
As important as the visual to invoke emotion, curiousity, learning and memory- and as much as music can set mood and is the Global Language - We still rely on language to be effective at sharing our multimedia to the widest and most appropriate audience. If we don’t label, title, tag or keyword it effectively, others will never find it. On the other side of the coin, if we are looking for something ourselves– the only way to be effective at searching is to have a broadening mastery of language to expand our search returns, or to filter and refine them.
So as technology integrators, I think we have more reason than ever to expose our students to the process of intentionally going beyond their immediate personal response to the question “How should I tag this?” for pictures and other digital publications. Facilitate the expansion of their vocabulary and perspective by asking them the question: “What would someone else who was looking for this publication use as a search term?” “What would be their view or perspective, and what language would they use?”
This analysis will certainly result in deeper understanding and more durable conceptualization of the topics that they are learning about.