I saw this TED talk by Ethan Zuckerman a couple of months ago and I’ve been meaning to post it since.

Zuckerman is a guy that is trying to work out how the web functions, more specifically how it is used. His research tests the claim that the web unites people from diverse communities.

In truth, the majority of us surround ourselves with like-minded people on line as we do in real life; in other words, the web isn’t used to develop wider world views – contrary to many folks’ lip service to the idea.

Zuckerman explains, “Much of my writing focuses on questions of whether the Internet is leading us to have a wider view of the world, or whether we’re becoming trapped in the “echo chambers” described by Cass Sunstein or the “filter bubbles” discussed by Eli Pariser. At Berkman, I’m running a number of small experiments that try to discover how parochial or cosmopolitan the use of the internet is in different communities – these questions are inspired in part by Pippa Norris’s work, especially her book Cosmopolitan Communications. I’ve been writing for the past several years on ways to make the internet work better for creating transnational connections, focusing on making translation transparent, engineering serendipity, monitoring what content we consume and leaning on bridge figures and xenophiles – I talk at length about these ideas in my TED talk, and am (slowly, painfully) working on a book on the subject.” (Source)