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Outside the Bubble

May 16, 2014

I have found YouTube increasingly boring.  Perhaps “boring” is not the word, too “familiar” is perhaps a better description.  Watch the YouTube video above and you might have an idea of what I mean.  You see, YouTube is kind of playing a game of candies and dragons with the videos and the viewers, every time a viewer is correctly paired with a video he/she wants to watch, YouTube gets a point.  However, the key for YouTube to score big points is COMBOS, YouTube wants the first correct match to lead to the next, then the next and so on.  The video above gives a brief explanation of how YouTube tries to create these combos.  The result, as we have all experienced them, are vortices of cat videos with no escape.

A similar mechanism is in place at the personalised YouTube homepage, where you are presented with a dinner menu based on what you’ve ordered before.  The question in video above that clearly made the interviewee a bit uncomfortable is the one about random element.  As the interviewee admitted – there is NO random element.  YouTube has found that presenting you with a video unrelated to the one you’ve just watched / watched before is only going to increase the chance of breaking the “combo”, so they are just not leaving anything to chance, literally.  Diversity is a fancy word, but it just doesn’t help YouTube score any points.  My YouTube homepage, as a result, looks like this:

20140516 YouTube Home

BBC is great; Tim Minchin is brilliant; Bohemian Rhapsody covered by The Muppets is a classic; I don’t remember that dood with an owl, but it looks coo (ah-ha-ah-ha-ah-haha); Yundi Li is great; Ah feel it in ma toez; Twilight parodies are why Twilight exists.  YouTube has correctly selected everything I like for me, but, to reuse that menu analogy, had my menu today been solely based on what I had eaten yesterday, everything on it would contain milk!  What’s worse is that I would be unaware that things without milk is edible.  This phenomenon is known as the filter bubble.

The best way to break out of the filter bubble, as suggested by HTY, is to actually go out and visit places.  For refreshingly unfamiliar, creative, inspiring and at times challenging videos, however, I recommend Vimeo Staff Picks.



One Comment leave one →
  1. longtimenosee permalink
    June 19, 2014 2:18 pm

    I like this post a lot!

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