Thursday, October 29, 2020
My echo chamber
I am interested in a large number of different subjects, as you might have noticed when reading my blog. But obviously those interests do not all exist at the same time at the same intensity. Currently I am very much interested in board games, but then I am not so much interested in World of Tanks anymore. When I am interested in a subject, I might look for information about it on various websites. And quite often, YouTube is one of those websites. If you want for example to learn a new game, or learn *about* a new game, a video is often more informative than text. Somebody playing a board game on YouTube will at the same time teach me the rules of that game, and give me a pretty good idea about whether this is a game that I would like to play.
When I get interested in a subject, I tend to concentrate on that one subject for some time. And the effect on YouTube is that the AI of YouTube "learns" that I am interested in this one subject. So YouTube is currently putting a lot of videos about board games on the home page. And while I see the advantages of that, I can also see that YouTube isn't proposing any 3D printing videos to me anymore, because I didn't watch any of those for some months. So YouTube creates an echo chamber, that pushes me deeper into whatever subject I'm currently into, and "forgets" my other subjects of interest.
I don't really like that. Last weekend I basically made a list of different subjects I am interested in, and tried to "train" the YouTube AI that I am interested in *all* that, by watching different videos on different subjects. But unlike other websites, e.g. Flipboard, you can't provide YouTube with a list of your interests and assure that there will always be some recommendations from those. So unless I regularly watch videos about a subject, YouTube forgets that I am interested in that, and feeds me a bland diet of videos all about the same stuff. Maybe I should from time to time just reset my history to get recommendations from a wider field. Seeing new stuff for me has always been one of the main strong point of the internet. Creating echo chambers (especially political ones) is a very bad idea.