Platforms and serendipity on the internet

In Filter Failures Ethan Chiel asks if platforms are sucking the joy out of the internet, and he makes a pretty compelling argument:

The internet as we use it now is, for the most part, what the large platforms want it to be: an engine for serving us what their various systems think we want, or what we wanted before, or what our demographics want en masse.

Here’s the problem:

What’s lost in the process is whatever you might have found that neither you nor an algorithm might guess is interesting. Some song in a forum thread you idly clicked on, a news item about something you’ve never expressed interest in or heard of that you read because you had 5 minutes to kill and it caught your eye.

This reminds me of how we used to browse music stores. We idly flipped through CDs, and picked a few to try out in the listening booth based on the cover, the song titles, and some undefined ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ factor. Now we just see and hear what we’ve seen and heard before, and the cycle continues…