Mapping Information Bubbles


Information bubbles are a natural extension of filter bubbles. We are placed inside a filter bubble by technology and begin to apply the implicit filters upon our own lives. We then enter the information bubble never questioning why we should do this.


Many speak of filter bubbles and a great deal of us suffer under them. Filter bubbles reduce our individual world view and our societal horizons.

Little is said about how to identifying filter bubbles and even less is written on escaping them.

Information Bubbles

Filter bubbles are named after the filters applied by search engines to prevent us from reading/interacting/accessing informaation that the search engine algorithm believe to be bad for us.

An algorithm designed by humans with an underlying bias prevents users from being shown information that might differ from their expectations.

Why there is a bias in the search engine algorithm can have many reasons. Financial because the algorithm prefers advertising to content, moral expectations that the company imposes on its users or poltically enforcing support for one side or the other.

What do I mean by informational bubble is the result of a filter bubble. Having been influenced by the filter bubble, users lower their expectation of critical thinking. They are surprised when thoughts and ideas appear that they have not been shown by the filter bubble.

Informational bubbles are broader and constitute our own personal filter bubble, we apply the implicit rules of the search engine filter to our own lives. We begin to block out information that we have been taught is not meant to be good for us.

I will be speaking of informational bubble as these are more universal and applicable to anyone living today. Humans have a natural, ingrained informational bubble that is feed from childhood on.

Someone else also had this idea. And also how to escape them.

It is human to live in an information bubble

Humans naturally have mental draws

The human mind can be pictured as a cupboard with many draws. Each draw represents a simplification we all make about our reality. Each drawer has a label and we are continually putting in and taking out of these draws.

We sort reality so that we aren’t overcome by our environment.

As a species we started doing this to make our environment easier to understand. If we every time encountered a stream and needed to understand the concept of water, we won’t have gotten past the fifth stream.

We understood the concept of water and began to realise that it comes from the sky and flows along rivers. It freezes and melts and comes in many forms of ice.

We don’t differentiate between the snow we find in the himalyains compare to the alps, both are specific forms of snow but both fall under the same concept of snow.

Technology is not to be blamed

Technology isn’t to be blamed for our information bubbles, technology only reinforces what we already do.

Why decomposing information bubbles?

I have this image of a bubble, a filter bubble floating in the air and it has a skin. Remove skin of a ballon and you’re left with nothing but the skin.

that’s not what I’m thinking of, I’m thinking of a soap bubble or something and you pop it and it falls to the ground and as it falls its skin begins to disintegrate and falls onto the ground and starts decomposing and falling into its individual components and these feed back into the fertile ground of my mind and that’s why it’s called decomposing a filter bubble

Can a MindMap decompose a information bubble?

Is it even possible to pull yourself out of a hole? You can’t pull yourself out by the hairs but you can look into a mirror.

Quite certainly a mind map or any other two dimensional representation of your thoughts will certainly not pull you out of your filter bubble hole, it will only give you a map of the bubble.

It is accepting the map to be complete and without error that solidifies your filter bubble. It seeing the dark areas of the map and questioning what could lie there or seeing the boundaries and wanting to move beyond those that can help to pull oneself out of the filter bubble.

My learnings creating my mindmap

Some rules that I began to accept:

  1. duplication doesn’t matter. Don’t worry about if you have duplicate copies of stuff that is written.
  2. be honest with yourself. Put in anything that comes to mind and grow your information bubble.
  3. write down your thoughts and organise them later. Organisation comes with clarity.

I have to admit I had a lot of source material. I meticulously write down all my thoughts and ideas, I keep a diary of these ideas and the events that lead up to them.

But I was faced with a one-dimensional world of writings, I no longer knew what was there. That is when I came upon the idea of recreating this world in two-dimensions. For me, a mindmap is a two-dimensional representations of my mind, while reality is the three dimensional manifestation of my mind.

MindMaps are normally uni-directional meaning one starts in the middle and works out from there. For me, this is not how my mind works. I series of connected thoughts never happens, its a jungle of chaos of ideas, beliefs and thoughts.

So I had long discounted MindMaps tools for their simplicity. To be fair, MindMaps are limited so that one can organise ones mind into single lines of thoughts and ideas. And this is where I have a different view. For me I want to put everything down as it is and then do the organising.

For this, I found my tool and also extended it since it was designed to be a MindMap tool! The tool allows me to make bi-directional MindMaps, where anything can be connected to anything else, even itself! Or it is connectiong to nothing.

So for me the perfect MindMap tool is a two-dimensional, bi-directional map with lots of colours and lines.

Since this article is more conceptual, I won’t go into the details of the tool I found and how I extended it, that is for a more technical article.

Mindmaps provide maps of information bubbles

A mindmap only helps to cartograph your mind. It could help you to escape your bubbles but only if you take the map in hand and question the unexplored areas.

take the map in hand and question the unexplored areas.

Easier said than done.

How to question something that you have spent your entire life in putting in place.

How to move outside of the known areas of your mind.

How to find those websites that you have never heard of?

A normal map has the societal knowledge of everyone, every street and building is listed and number even if we were never there.

A mindmap isn’t a streetmap - the bits we don’t know aren’t shown.

MindMaps aren’t street maps

Street maps show one an entire area, all the streets of a city, all the surburbs, all the hidden places of a city.

A mind map shows only that which one puts into it. Only those topcis, issues and ideas that one has had and that one adds. Some things we don’t add to the mindmap because we aren’t being honest with ourselves.

A mindmap isn’t a street map where we can easily see what else there is.

Mindmap site that creates a street map

Imagine a website whereby a societal street map is created using peoples mindmaps.

A streetmap isn’t a mindmap as a streetmap shows all those places we haven’t been yet. A mind map is simply a map of our minds, no other soccietal imput is there.

Obviously being able to compare your mindmap and see where it is located in other peoples mind maps would be damn cool!

The irony of any such application would be that the underlying algorithms would implicitly create, if even somewhat larger, further information bubbles. This irony is not lost on the author.

Exploring Filter Bubbles, expanding minds.

Combining others mindmaps with ones own builds that street map of knowledge. Exploring the world of knowledge becomes simple.

Because you begin in places you know - your own mindmap - moving around in that knowledge space is a matter of accepting others ideas and beliefs.

As I move along my mindmap paths, I will always encounter other paths that other people have taken, it is up to me to take those new paths, unexplored paths for me but known to others.

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The author is available for Node-RED development and consultancy.