Introduction by OpenMethods Editor (Maciej Maryl): This article assesses the issue of personalisation in internet research, raising important issues of how should we interpret users’ choices and how to account for the potential platform-design influence in your research workflow.
As our experiences in various spheres shape how information is sorted by algorithms or us – it is important to examine individuals’ life in a social context. In short – personalization is not about the individual experience but people’s social experiences and their complex intersections with multiple contexts. So depending on what researchers aim to examine, they need to consider more diverse types of networks as they are the entry and end point(s).
How does the personalization approach affect the way internet researchers conduct research? The immediate topics in relation to this seem to be around ‘filter bubbles’ and eco-chambers, which some scholars refute and argue that we need to minimize the influence we give to these algorithmic sorting. But while there has been a lot of attention on personalization in terms of news and politics, this also has an influence on research areas such as subjectivities, interpretations, interactions with other people and objects, world views, preferences and even jobs. This is then a complex process that happens simultaneously, where both content and sorting are personalized and tailored to people which focus on individual but also their networks.
Original date of publication: 02.07.2018