Algorithms and the Filter Bubble references for 2015

UTS logoThis morning I delivered version six of my now-regular guest lecture to media students at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), “Algorithms and the Filter Bubble”. Here are the references and further reading.

The links over the fold start off with some background material that sets out my worldview, and then things are in roughly the same order as presented in the lecture — with the order becoming less coherent further down the page. There’s more material linked here than I mentioned in the lecture itself. Enjoy.

A recording of the lecture will be made available in roughly one week on Wednesday 23 September on Friday 25 September, as the change in Prime Minister has triggered the demand for some of my commentary. This page may be updated with further links at that time.


  1. A presentation I did in 2012, Consilium: Social media is destroying society? Good!, which sets out my evolving thoughts on the internet revolution changing power relationships at every level of society.
  2. Snowden’s legacy and the NSA of everything, ZDNet Australia, 2 December 2013.
  3. Bitdefender’s Clueful app for uncovering the privacy risks of the apps running in your smartphone. Available for Android and Apple’s iOS.
  4. TrustGo’s Ad Detector app for Android, which reveals which advertising networks your smartphone’s apps are sending data to.
  5. The Collusion plugin for the Firefox web browser, which maps the relationships between the third-party tracking code you encounter in your web browsing.
  6. Cookies, the fundamental building-block of web tracking technology.
  7. Research by Finnish information security company F-Secure which shows that More than half of the top 100 URLs are tracking you.
  8. It’s time that ‘metadata’ met an end, ZDNet Australia, 20 March 2014.
  9. Is this the world’s safest phone?, Technology Spectator, 24 January 2014.
  10. Could privacy fears burst the dot-com bubble?, ZDNet Australia, 10 September 2013.
  11. The ProPublica article, Everything We Know About What Data Brokers Know About You, from March 2013.
  12. How Companies Learn Your Secrets, The New York Times, journalist Charles Duhigg, 16 February 2012. This includes the example of Target being able to determine when a woman has become pregnant from her shopping list.
  13. Gaydar: Facebook friendships expose sexual orientation, by Carter Jernigan and Behram F T Mistree, First Monday, 5 October 2009.
  14. How well does music predict your politics? by Brian Whitman, 11 July 2012.
  15. Facebook’s Gen Y Nightmare, the Monday Note essay by Frédéric Filloux which included the speculative scenario if a woman being turned down for a job because data mining predicted some likely health problems and perhaps even a good chance of her becoming pregnant.
  16. Your Porn is Watching You, Motherboard, 6 April 2015.
  17. Top-Secret Document Reveals NSA Spied On Porn Habits As Part Of Plan To Discredit ‘Radicalizers’, The Huffington Post, 27 November 2013.
  18. Official information about Australia’s new privacy laws, which came into force on 12 March 2014.
  19. My Crikey article Twitter mapping and how we choose our own adventure from 23 May 2012, linking to the work of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation at the Queensland University of Technology.
  20. Mapping Online Publics, the ongoing blog of that project.
  21. The Quartz article, Turns out Twitter is even more politically polarized than you thought, which is based on…
  22. A study by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, Mapping Twitter Topic Networks: From Polarized Crowds to Community Clusters.
  23. Earthquake: 3.2 quake strikes near San Simeon, a computer-generated story from the LA Times, 1 February 2013.
  24. Stats Monkey, the 2009 project in robot-written sports news stories from the Intelligent Information Laboratory at Northwestern University. That project page contains links to media coverage of the project.
  25. Narrative Science’s ‘Robot Journalists’ Now Tackling Real Estate, Media Bistro, 12 September 2011.
  26. Narrative Science, one of the leaders in computer-generated news.
  27. Automated Insights, another such leader.
  28. Robots: their rights and legal status, an episode of ABC Radio National’s Future Tense from 11 August 2013.
  29. The Only Thing Weirder Than a Telemarketing Robot, wrote Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic on 13 December 2013, is the possibility that there is a human in the call centre listening to you, yes, but he or she isn’t speaking to you, but rather playing back pre-recorded scripted soundbites.
  30. Research from 2009 by British-American information security company Sophos, Sophos Australia Facebook ID probe 2009, which showed that — at least at that time — almost half of Facebook users would accept a random friend request from a fake profile with almost no hard information.
  31. Videos from the US Naval Research Laboratory’s Cognitive Robots project. Of particular interest is Robotic Secrets Revealed, Episode 002 (Hiatt, Harrison, Lawson, Martinson, & Trafton, 2011).
  32. Steve Jobs Offers World ‘Freedom From Porn’, Gawker, 15 May 2010.
  33. Apple Rejects App That Tracks US Drone Strikes, Wired, 30 August 2012.
  34. My article The Facebook experiment, 23 March 2012.
  35. Machine-Learning Algorithm Mines Rap Lyrics, Then Writes Its Own, MIT Technology Review, 20 May 2015.
  36. IIT-Bombay team creates program to detect drunk text message writers, The Indian Express, 21 August 2015.
  37. The fake battle that fooled IS supporters – and their opponents, BBC News, 15 June 2015.
  38. SXSW 2015: Robots, Algorithms Infiltrate The News Business, Selecting Stories And Writing Them, International Business Times, 16 March 2015.
  39. In the Future, Robots Will Write News That’s All About You, Wired, 6 March 2015.
  40. My article Prepare for the attack of the politiclones! on fake Twitter followers and Australian politics, 15 August 2013.

Update 20 September 2015: Edited to confirm a date for posting the lecture recording. Update 20 September 2015: Edited further to change the planned date for posting the recording.