Niche Net

The BBC reported today on efforts to better search results by considering the demographics of the searcher. For example, if the searcher is of a certain ethnicity and searches for a keyword word, the results that other searchers of the same ethnicity found relevant for that keyword will be weighted higher.

The article discusses trying to classify sites in terms of their demographic and mentions the idea of “white” and “black” sites, but can sites really be classified as such? Furthermore, the article states this may segregate and compartmentalize knowledge, and the Internet has been proposed as a social leveler.

Of course, the Internet is not level in demographics of access. Age, economic, and social background all affect who is online. Indeed in some ways, these niches already exist because of language differences. And, perhaps, niche culture is growing online with the use of social networks and blogs. Many may read what their friends find interesting and share.

The current question, however, is should we promote further classification of information by demographic.

The full BBC story is here:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7787810.stm

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