by Kyle Chayka
The early promise of a free Internet is long gone. Now, rather than allowing us a meaningful relationship with a range of content of our choosing, algorithms have not only removed genuine choice but de-texturized the world around us: smoothed its edges, planed down friction, and flattened differences. So coffee shops from Brooklyn to Beijing are inflected with a similar, 'Instagrammable' aesthetic.
Airbnb rentals are decked out for their swipability factor as much as for their comfort. Spotify builds playlists that echo a category, looping back to music we've already heard before so as not to disrupt the flow. Netflix doesn't just make suggestions based on viewing histories but it actively changes the thumbnails to increase the chances we click on it.
As Filterworld masterfully shows, culture itself has become algorithmic: a set of principles, a data rule, a line of code. And we interact with it in ever more passive ways. The result is not isolated echo chambers or a filter bubbles, but an all-encompassing Filterworld of the title.
Kyle Chayka deliciously deconstructs this Filterworld: it shows us how technology has led us to this place and its effects on society and the individual, as well as how we might be able to remove the filter to gain liberation.
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Date of Publication: 23/01/2024