The Wrong Side of a One-Way Mirror

Scientific American usually has a pro-business stance (think of all those wonderful advertisements) but once in a while something sneaks in that is good for the rest of us.

Take the article A Tale of Two Internets by Michael Fertik on page 13 of the February Issue. It is not available online. Here is the opening paragraph:

Imagine an Internet where unseen hands curate your entire experience. Where third parties predetermine the news, products, and prices you see – even the people you meet. A world where you think you are making the choices, but in reality, your options are narrowed and refined until you are left with merely the illusion of control.

He goes on to explain what Big Data is.

Many companies (and the NSF) are finding out everything about you. And using this information to personalize your Internet experience. This sounds innocuous enough – the Internet shows you only what you what you are interested in. But these guys can also show you only what they want you to be interested in.

And you have no way of seeing them do this behind their (not your) one-way mirror.


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