The integrity of search results and data from any source is critical to its utility in obtaining knowledge, gathering actionable intelligence, formulating strategic plans and every aspect of decision making. If we are given filtered, altered, edited or otherwise 'customized' data, some third party has selected what that party thinks is appropriate for us to see -- we do not have a choice of seeing it all, in its unabridged, unmanipulated form. Further, the results which we may claim to have found to support an argument, position or course of action might be unverifiable by a different person conducting the same search through the same source.
Second-guessing users, and filtering or focusing search results by algorithms which are laden with data-mined demographic and psychographic feedback does some frightening things:
1) It selectively limits access to all of the information and affects our conclusions;
2) Its amorphous nature defies consistency and third-party confirmation or fact-checking;
3) It deprives us of a basic form of 'freedom of information' -- it is a form of censorship;
In the purported interest of customizing and personalizing a user's experience, sources of information upon many of which we depend are now monitoring our browsing, buying and research habits in order to market more efficiently and influentially to us [but they do not speak about this last insidious motive].
I believe that it behooves every leader, analyst, decision-maker, reporter -- perhaps every single person -- to be aware of this phenomenon, and to get energetically involved in finding workarounds to this rapid decline in informational consistency and integrity. I hope that you will find the videos which follow to be informative and thought-provoking.
Some Selected Comments On The Above Video - Posted On YouTube:
You might wish to try this: Synchronize your watches and have several colleagues enter the same search terms in exactly the same way, and at the same moment into Google. Have them get together immediately after with screenshots of what they were shown on their individual computers. You'll be amazed at the differences.
One cumbersome workaround might involve a consensus: If you have a topic to research, have a group of colleagues enter the same search terms into the same search engine at the same time, take the results, and operate using those results which were common to all of the searches. This may be a quick and effective means of neutralizing (to some extent) the bias in each individual's results.
Be aware of this "provider bias" in researching any topic on any source.
Douglas E Castle [http://aboutDouglasCastle.blogspot.com]
p.s. Special encrypted note to the crew at Technorati - one of my favorite informational resources: Y8CJD8PP45DZ