How good is me.com for you—and democracy?

21 August 2007

WASHINGTON, DC: If the world wide web was seen as the harbinger of the “global village”, customisation and personalisation of internet content have inverted the premise and reduced users to “an audience of one”. This may be good for e-commerce outlets, advertisers, marketeers seeking to deliver targetted information.

But how good is tailoring of news delivery and consumption? Could it limit our worldview? Could we end up only reading what reassures us? Will it make us narrowminded in the long run?

SriramSriKalayanaraman, PhD, assistant professor at the school of journalism and mass communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has been studying all the many strands of the issue.

“We have a potential problem because the type, quality and quantity of information that we are going to be exposed to (as a result of customisation) is going to be extremely limited. Our worldview is going to be restricted to very narrow spheres of influence. This actually has implications for the entire process of democracy.”

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