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Language Bubbles

Published on
3 Sep 2012
Written by
Scott A. Hale

Eli Pariser has raised awareness that personalization algorithms play in filtering and ranking results on the web. I think this work is very important, but another strand seemingly obvious, but surprisingly lacking study, is the role that language plays. A user searching content by keywords with most services is only likely to find content written/tagged/annotated in the language the user employs. This may make sense for some items, but for other content, say images, this is really an unexpected by-product of how the content is tagged and index.

I wrote an article looking at the role of language online, specifically with an example of image search on the Free Speech Debate website. The article initially had several comparisons of queries in Google Image search, but all but one were edited out. I’m including all of the images below and encourage you to check out the post as well.

I also gave a very general, accessible talk (only 10 minutes!) on the idea at a panel discussion for St Antony’s International Review earlier in the year. With some help from Kdenlive, I have now been able to edit the video and place this online as well.