As readers here at HX know, the Echo Chamber is the box we build for ourselves in our customizable world where we watch news shows or read internet sites where the “angle” of the writing agrees with us. We are reinforcing our ideologies by reading websites that speak to those ideologies.
Why is this a problem? In this Echo-Chamber, it is very difficult for people to get dissonant messages into our lifestyle. It is very difficult for Christians to get their message of the love of God to people whose lifestyle is a closed system. If there was any one aspect of people’s lifestyles that you could say “yeah, that’s what Hacking Christianity talks about,” it’s probably this concept.
Alas, Google has two features now that encourage this type of lifestyle:
- SearchWiki. You may see this already, the “up” arrows after posts. While this is allegedly an algorhythm to allow Google to know if you “found what you searched for” it also leads to preference given to particular sites that reinforce your worldview. If you search for “Barack Obama” and give an “up” vote to a Fox News clip, then the likelihood of a fox news result being returned for you later gets an uptick.
- Even more chamber-ish is Preferred Sites. This is when you see a result from a website you like, then you can click this and get more results from that website. Again, you are more likely to get search results, even on mundane topics, from websites that appeal to your ideology or lifestyle.
While both of these have practical uses, I’m hesitant in the narrowing of search options by giving preference to those sites that agree with “us.”
Thoughts? Are custom search engines limiting our searches or ensuring that “we get what we search for?” And what are the responses of Christian web ministries when their websites get less hits because people self-select “Saddleback” or “CrossWalk” and drive up their narrow viewpoints on the search lists?
Discuss. Oh, and if anyone wants to make HX to their preferred site, be my guest. I have no shame.