Seeing Ourselves Through Technology Chapter 2 Notes:

Summary: Chapter 2 “Filtered Reality” by Jill Walker Rettberg, proposes the idea using the term ‘filter’ as an analytical term to understand algorithmic culture. In everyday colloquial speech, we filter the photos we post on social media and the news that we produce. In today’s measurable perception the filter has become an alluring analogy for the ways in which technology can abolish certain subject matter and how it can deceive texts, images and data. Filters can be mechanical, cultural or cognitive, or they can be a combination of all of these depending on what you’re reading, or what source the information is coming from. Examples that are discussed throughout this text are the skin tone bias in photography, Instagram filters and the genres of social media as filters, and baby journals and the apps that control them. All throughout this chapter there is a reoccurring question as to “What is filtered out”? “What flavors or styles are added”? We as consumers need to ask ourselves these questions while viewing all the content we come into contact with because figuring out what is filtered can tell you a whole lot more than what you truly think.

Main Idea: Filters come in many forms and ultimately alters our minds to see the world differently.

Key Terms: 

  • Algorithmic Culture: To refer to the ways in which computers, running complex mathematical formula, engage in what’s often considered to be the traditional work of culture
  • Filters: A software routine that changes the appearance of an image or part of an image by altering the shades and colors of the pixels in some manner
  • Terministic Screens: What filters our understanding of the world
  • Ethnography: study of the documenting human cultures
  • Self-Presentation: Any behavior that is designed to convey an image about ourselves to others


Commentary:  After reading this article my final thought is that filters are bad for certain people that use social media in various different ways. Filters are altering our images so much that ‘perfection’ is trying to be obtained and in the process it is ruining so many individuals self esteem. When we scroll through all sorts of different social media apps we see reoccurring images that make us wonder to ourselves “Why can’t I be that perfect”. This is such a toxic statement to say to yourself because this perfection is so filtered by many sources that you have to train your brain to tell yourself that these people are not perfect, filters just make it look that way. Filters can indeed be an exceptional resource to use while trying to clear up an image, remove something unwanted from the background, or create something unique, but always be aware of how you’re using all the filters you have access to. Do not let yourself get caught up in filters and start losing your individuality because that is what makes you different from everyone else in the world.


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