ergophobe - 10:27 pm on Oct 4, 2011 (gmt 0)
people read more than one news article about the same story; the facts are the same but the opinions differ
I'm not sure that's true. It's one reason people read more than one article, but there are other reasons such as:
1. The treasure hunt: hoping to find more facts (why people cruise flea markets for junk they don't need).
2. The reality check: hoping to corroborate the facts in the first story (why journalists look for at least two sources)
3. The adrenaline rush: hoping to reexperience the thrill of learning those facts (this is why we read the same favorite novel multiple times).
Of course, this to some degree underlines your point: people are often looking for something in addition to a piece of knowledge.
If Simon was using "personalisation" then there would be points in the conversation when some members of the group would suddenly disappear as their views conflict with Simon's
And yet, this is what happens, just over a larger time scale. Popular as the Tea Party is in the US, I literally don't know a single person that I hang out with often who identifies with it. Why? Because over many years, my "personalization" algorithms have walled me off in some way from those people. It's not that they suddenly disappear from the room. It's that over time I've filtered and sorted my friends and people who think differently than I do are just simply never invited into the room at all. Not only that, the fractionation of media and the replacement of communities based on geography with communities based on interests ("town" verus "tribe") has greatly exacerbated this problem (and yes, I do think it's a problem). I've seen studies that show that under an arranged marriage regime, marriages are overwhelmingly within the same class (income, education). Once you give couples free choice without parental veto... nothing changes. That's "personalization" of the dating market. So I think personalized search, well-executed, would mirror the social world.
The "problem" that I alluded to is that when I am forced into a community because of geography, I am at least confronted with ideas I don't like. When my "information diet" begins to mirror my "social diet" I lose a tremendous diversity in terms of ideas I'm exposed to. Americans of a certain age know the difference between an entire nation watching Walter Cronkite for the news versus a nation where half read Huffington Post and half listen to Glen Beck. It's sad, but Google is following a broad social trend mirrored in other media.
So I completely agree with what "should" be. We might hope that big media (including Google) would want to confront us with challenging ideas, but that is not what big media has ever wanted. It has wanted to make money. So I would say that all the trends you mention, be they good or ill, were essentially a foregone conclusion the second Google took on shareholders.