PERSONALISATION MUDDIES THE GAME
The problem of echo chambers is worsened by the personalization route adopted by Search Engines.
Google and other Search Engines now return different search results for the same terms searched by different users. This is because these searches are customized and personalized for the user. Many critics have raised the valid concern that this personalization is at the cost of creativity.
For instance, if you were to search in Amazon for a book, you will find it recommending other books which you might like. Very rarely would you be surprised by some original recommendation, since the suggested books are often based on data from your previous searches.
Providing a narrow and relevant information environment makes search useful, no doubt. But the absence of randomness can hurt in other ways. Creativity is often given a boost by the introduction of totally random ideas or stimuli. Think about the apple and Isaac Newton!
Eli Pariser argues in the book Filter Bubble that the search for perfect relevance and the kind of serendipity that promotes creativity, push in opposite directions. He says that ‘if you like this, you’ll like that’ can be a useful tool, but it’s not a source for creative ingenuity. Because, “by definition, ingenuity comes from the juxtaposition (placing side by side) of ideas that are far apart, and relevance comes from finding ideas that are similar”.
What is relevant may not always lead you to serendipity or happy chance finding which is foundational for creativity. So let your search lead you to explore new experiences occasionally. There’s the cost of time, no doubt. But you might strike gold once in a while.