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Unfiltered.news: Fulfilling the promise of the Web

Jigsaw — the Big Ideas do-tank of Google — has created a site that wants to pop your filter bubble. It’s pretty awesome.

Unfiltered.news visualizes on a map the top topics in countries around the world. Click on a topic — all of them are translated into your langue — to see how it’s trending in different localities. Use a slider to go back in time. It’s all very slick and animated.

Best of all, it automatically shows you the topics that are not trending in your region. That makes it more MultiFiltered than Unfiltered, but that’s actually what we want. (HeteroFiltered? Nah, that sounds very wrong.)

The Web was supposed to enable the world to talk amongst itself. It has left us way ahead of where we were but far behind where we want to be. This is not a failure of the Web but the result of the way understanding and attention work: understanding is a semi-coherent context (AKA echo chamber) that works by assimilating the novel into the familiar. Attention notices the novel based upon its sense of the familiar. It’s impossible to break out of this cycle. Even G-d couldn’t do it, having to show Itself to Moses as a talking, burning bush — weird, but a weird combination of familiar elements.

(This “hermeneutic circle” may be inevitable, but as you traverse it you can still be open-minded and curious or a self-righteous a-hole.)

I would love to see an integration of Google News and Unfiltered so that it doesn’t require you to remember to go to the site after you’ve gone to Google News. If Google News were integrated into Unfiltered.news, we could make the latter our main news site. Even better, Unfiltered could be integrated into Google News so that everyone who uses that very popular site could have their curiosity piqued.

Until then, I hope to make Unfiltered a regular part of my news behavior.

7 Responses to “Unfiltered.news: Fulfilling the promise of the Web”

  1. The link to the site doesn’t work… should be without “www”… I guess they’ll fix that soon but just in case they don’t…

  2. Thanks, Emil. I’ve fixed it.

  3. all links are broken for me, only the amber snapshots pop up.

  4. You have to click on the screenshot in the popup to go to the live page. And, yes, that’s both non-obvious and dumb. Either I have Amber configured wrong (the most likely possibility) or I’ll send a note to the Amber folks pointing out that this is, um, sub-optimal.

    Sorry for the confusion.

  5. I had Amber configured wrong. (In my defense, the config UI is not entirely clear. I’ll drop the Amber folks a line about that.) Links should now go directly to the source page. If that page is gone, you’ll get the Amber popup.

    Sorry, and thanks for letting me know.

  6. […] is nog in beta, maar u kunt het al in avant-première testen. Unfiltered.news geeft visueel de belangrijkste topics in de verschillende landen van de wereld […]

  7. […] est encore en version béta, mais vous pouvez déjà le tester en avant-première. Unfiltered.news offre un aperçu visuel des principaux sujets dans les différents pays du monde […]


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