Algorithms and the Filter Bubble, Take 2A

Title slide for Algorithms and the Filter BubbleAs foreshadowed, on Monday I delivered an updated version of my guest lecture at the University of Technology Sydney, “Algorithms and the Filter Bubble”. And here it is.

There’s quite a few changes from the lecture I gave in March, because I wanted to update some key examples.

In fact there’s two versions of the lecture, because I presented it twice — once at 0900 and once at 1300 — and some of the content was improvised around my moderately detailed notes. So I’ll bring you both versions. This is the first, with full audio and the slides.

The repeat of the lecture later in the day was slightly different.

There’s links to all the references over the fold.

As previously, the recording picks up immediately after I was introduced by lecturer, Dr Belinda Middleweek. A transcript may or may not follow at some point in the future.

The audience was primarily first and second year students at the beginning of their media studies degrees. Again, it seems that almost all of this material was brand new to them.

[If a transcript ever becomes available, this is where it will appear.]

This work is made available under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license. This presentation may be re-used for non-commercial purposes within the terms of the Creative Commons license. The non-commercial and share-alike conditions are required to adhere to the licensing of the imagery used. Please contact me if you require an alternative version. As a minimum, attribution should read: “Source: Stilgherrian.” Online versions must link the word Stilgherrian to the website at

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Weekly Wrap 168: False spring, false summer, false dawn?

The smell of summer: click to embiggenMy week Monday 19 to Sunday 25 August 2013 started strong, but ended weak. It began with two solid days at the Gartner Security and Risk Management Summit. But instead of that being followed by solid days of writing, a lack of sleep and a walk without a jacket in sub-zero temperatures were the final straws for my slowly-recovering health.

The second half of the week saw me come down with a bad cold, and the media objects I planned to produce were delayed. One day I’ll learn to pace myself, possibly before retiring age.


None, though I wrote up most of the crowdfunding proposal for Corrupted Nerds.


None. That’s embarrassing.

Media Appearances


Corporate Largesse

  • On Monday and Tuesday I covered the Gartner Security and Risk Management Summit in Sydney. While there, obviously I was fed and watered at Gartner’s expense. And coffeed, orange-juiced and wined. Additional food and alcoholic beverages were provided by Sourcefire, Symantec and TrustSphere. Netbox Blue gave me a USB power socket that fits into a car’s cigarette lighter socket and, when I pointed out that I don’t have a car or even drive one, a combination 2GB USB memory stick, keyring and bottle opener. I explained that the latter would be perfect for carrying the Emergency Porn. They seemed surprised. Sourcefire bought me a light lunch.

The Week Ahead

Monday sees the repeat performance of my guest lecture at the University of Technology Sydney, at 0900 and 1300. There’s a meeting in the afternoon, and then the program launch for the Sydney Opera House’s Festival of Dangerous Ideas in the evening.

(I was on the program for that event last year, on a panel discussion entitled I Share Therefore I Am.)

I’ll stay in Sydney for some meetings on Tuesday, and the rest of the week is mainly about catching up on the writing I’ve got in the pipeline. The current count is one for CSO Online, one for Technology Spectator, two for ZDNet Australia. I’ll also kick off that crowdfunding for Corrupted Nerds.

Also on Thursday night is Text100’s (in)famous Christmas in August event, where they preview their clients’ goodies for the holiday buying season.

The exact order of play is still to be arranged.

[Photo: The smell of summer, taken from the train on Sunday 25 August 2013 as it sped between, I think, St Marys and Mt Druitt, as the smell of burning eucalypt from the pre-summer back-burning permeated the carriage.]

They’re letting me lecture to students regularly now

University of Technology Sydney logoApparently I’m not scary enough for the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). My guest lecture earlier this year, Algorithms and the Filter Bubble, is now a regular fixture.

I was rather chuffed to be told a few weeks ago that the students had voted it the best lecture of the semester, and their course feedback said the material had to remain in the course. So I’ll now be delivering a similar lecture once a semester.

Well, twice this semester, because high student numbers mean that I have to give two performances, at 0900 and 1300 on Monday 26 August.

Weekly Wrap 146: Just a photo, Ma’am

Blue sky at Katoomba: click for original image on FlickrThe week of Monday 18 to Sunday 24 March 2013 was bereft of newly-published media objects, so here’s a photograph of the sky.

The Week Ahead

On Monday (today) I’ll head into Sydney to deliver my guest lecture at UTS in Ultimo and then go to meeting in Alexandria. The rest of the week is full of writing (exact order TBA) until it all stops early for Good Friday and I become annoyed.

[Photo: Blue sky at Katoomba, photographed on 24 March 2013.]

Algorithms and the Filter Bubble: UTS guest lecture

Diagram of the Australian political Twitterverse: click for article "Twitter mapping and how we choose our own adventure"On Monday I’m delivering a guest lecture at the University of Technology Sydney. “Algorithms and the Filter Bubble” is the supplied title, and in theory I’ll be looking at Google (and friends), big data and personalised news filtering.

The students — who are, I’m told, “first and second year students who are at the beginning of their media studies degrees” — have been given some pre-reading: Eli Pariser’s book The filter bubble: what the Internet is hiding from you (specifically the chapter “The User is the Content”, pages 47-76 in the edition I’ve seen; check the Wikipedia summary), and David Beer’s paper “Power through the algorithm? Participatory web cultures and the technological unconscious”. I’m about to read them myself.

But I reckon the bleeding-edge action here is in advertising, not news, and especially the comprehensive data mining that allows, for example, Target in the US to figure out that a woman is pregnant just by her shopping list.

After I discussed these topics with the lecturer, I sent her a list of related material I’d written. I believe this has been sent to the students.

I also linked to my presentation at Consilium 2012: Social media is destroying society? Good!

Since then, ProPublica has posted an excellent article, Everything We Know About What Data Brokers Know About You.

I don’t know if non-students are allowed in, but the lecture is on Monday 25 March at 1300 AEDT in Room 56, Level 3, Building 6 (Peter Johnson Building), University of Technology Sydney, 702-730 Harris Street, Ultimo. In any event, I’ll be recording it and will post the audio and transcript here in due course.

For now, though, I suppose I should write the damn thing.

Australia’s unwired politicians

In October 2007 I wrote: “The next time someone says we’re experiencing Australia’s ‘first internet election’ or our ‘first YouTube election’, slap them. Slap them very hard.” Now UTS research into the 2007 federal election further illustrates the point.

As ZDNet News reports, only two-thirds of the sitting federal members and senators had a personal website, and only 1 in 10 had a MySpace page — though personally I object to MySpace being the touchstone.

The study also revealed only 6.6 percent had a blog, 5.75 percent had posted one or more videos on YouTube, 3.5 percent had a Facebook site and only 3.1 percent had a podcast, as at 20 November 2007.

But of those that did find their way online a large percentage failed to go beyond traditional one-way communication.

Much more in the full story. Hat-tip to Peter Black.