This blog has, to date, primarily focused on the qualities of networked information technologies and regulatory responses to them – in particular qualities that raise issues of privacy and free expression. This installment of “Tool Without a Handle” looks at the qualities that render these tools influential on artistic and political discourse. In this first part, I will look at one particular quality: searchable text.
The searchability of digital content may contribute to confirmation bias and the “filter bubble” phenomena. A pre-conceived preference as to what news or information is desired can be easily bolstered with references found via targeted searches. At the same time, a distinct value of search technology is that it has enabled a vast number of entertainment and creative works to find audiences. A library of programming the size of Netflix or YouTube is simply not navigable with the rotary dials that graced the television set of my childhood.