There have always been gatekeepers, those people who make the decisions about what you see, what you have the opportunity to buy, and weather or not you can participate.
The supermarket buyer determines what goes on the shelves, a faceless committee determines what constitutes the levels of “obscene” and therefore what is able to be published, and the bloke running the big dipper determines that no-one under 5 feet can take the ride. The examples go on.
The web is usually cited as the medium that has democratised information, made it available to all with a computer, and that is true, but it has also introduced a new form of gatekeeper: the algorithm.
Algorithms are simply instructions that determine what computers do with a piece of information, or set of instructions, they are the guts of everything we now do with computers.
Facebooks “Edgerank” determines what you see on your newsfeed based on an algorithm, Google uses algorithms to determine the order of responses to a search, sign up to a blog site, and an algorithm sends you a “thanks for joining” note of some sort, and it is the application of algorithms to the mass of so called Big Data that is enabling the extraction of individual behavioral information.
Don’t kid yourself, the gatekeepers are still there, and probably more influential than ever, just better hidden, so you better understand how they work.