Filtering, Blocking and Rating: Chaperones or Censorship?
Prejudice in its original sense – that is, to prejudge based on assumed similarities – is the fundamental basis of all rational thought. We all filter and categorise information to find that which is relevant to our needs. Internet search engines rise or fall on their ability to translate our queries into such useful information. Websites – especially commercial sites – utilise technology to move their sites to the top of search returns, and search engines respond in kind to counteract (or to allow in exchange for payment) such attempts.4 Nonetheless, most Internet users have had the experience of finding a link buried in a site, which leads to another relevant link, and to another ... until we find ourselves down some pleasurable but unexpected informational rabbit hole, in a direction we did not intend to go, but one which broadens our perspectives nonetheless. This ability to explore the confines of the Internet freely, to use technology to aid our search, and perhaps to be surprised and challenged by what we find, is what makes the Internet such a revolutionary educational and political device. There is a reason that the technologies used to search the Internet are called ‘browsers’, rather than ‘pinpointers’.