Repurposing filter bubbles: my presentation at Hong Kong University Education Faculty

Thanks to Dr. Angel Lin‘s invitation, I had an interesting exchange with professors and students at the Faculty of Education Hong Kong University. Dr. Lin in particular welcomes this new critical perspective for using information and communication technologies in educating settings. The “Repurposing filter bubbles” slides can be downloadable here.


There seems to be a widening gap between perceiving and using the Internet and digital technologies: we feel as if we are connected to the rest of the world but the actual information and media consumption is rather parochial. We face the issues of “Imaginary Cosmopolitanism” (Zuckerman, 2010) and information “Filter Bubbles” (Pariser, 2011). Anecdotally, I was also told by several Hong Kong educators that despite the fact that Hong Kong is a well-connected global city, many Hong Kong students suffer from narrow parochial views of their life world. As my research has been focusing on analysing geographic and linguistic factors for Internet and digital social research, I see some of the theoretical and methodological tools can be repurposed for building new (cross-cultural) literacies by helping both teachers and students first to recognize the existence of information filter bubbles, then to understand the underlying mechanism, and finally to repurpose these information sorting and summarizing devices, which together can contribute to the “new literacies” practices. These devices include search engine results, keyword suggestions (e.g. Google autocomplete), user-generated encyclopedias, popularity metrics in social media websites, etc. I will demonstrate viable and tangible options for better cosmopolitan learning and thinking so as to make “think global, act local” more than just a slogan or a dream.

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