The Knowledge Project with Shane Parrish: Popping the Filter Bubble My Interview with DuckDuckGo Founder, Gabriel Weinberg

Full podcast here

  • The first company I started was a educational software company that used the internet to increase student achievement by increasing parental involvement. It went nowhere. I was 15 years too early. [4:04]

  • Duck Duck Go started as a search engine that doesn’t track you. We’ve expanded into a suite of privacy tools: private search, tracker blocking, and encryption. [5:48]

  • Corporate surveillance and government surveillance are related. They are linked. Government uses the data you give to corporations. Corporations track you all over the web. [6:35]

  • The filter bubble: companies use your history [search, profile, things you clicked on] to show you certain things they think you are likely to click on. This also means they have to hide things they think you won’t click on. [8:17]

  • I think the digital advertising duopoly should be prohibited from sharing data across their business units. Example: Facebook prohibited from sharing data with Instagram. [16:32]

  • Privacy is a fundamental right. People deserve it. If there is no alternative then people have no choice. [20:29]

  • People are already paying for “free” products like Facebook, just not directly. There was a story in The NY Times about a reporter who quit Facebook for 5 months. He stared spending 50% less since he wasn’t being exposed to all the ads. The hyper targeted ads are a form of influence mental models that elicit a manipulative emotional responseThat’s money out of your pocket. You are paying for it. [22:04]

  • I think we should return to the world of contextual advertising. [25:24]

  • I think we should be able to communicate privately without anyone knowing. [32:09]

  • In general - when you have data network effects you have winner take most markets. [50:47]

  • Book recommendation: The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition [51:57]

  • The newer companies have way fewer employees than the companies in the past. More leverage + zero marginal costs and you can get to the same market cap with way fewer employees. [53:28]

  • Do you have any guess why studies report when people quit Facebook they become happier? My guess is there is an opportunity cost for your time. You were just wasting your time on social media and now you are spending that time in better ways. Then the actual content you were engaging with is actually toxic. You are seeing other people be happier than you or doing better things. It’s fake. [58:02]

  • Advice on how to spend your time: Am I spending my time on the most optimal way relative to my other options? Work on the most important thing. The thing that is more important than all other important things. [1:12:30]

  • Duck Duck Go is a remote company. Default asynchronous communication. [1:17:37]

  • A management technique we learned from Apple: DRI. Directly responsible individual. Every task, project, objective has one person that owns it. This avoids diffusion of responsibility. [1:22:38]