120224_bill_maher_ap_328Talk show host Bill Maher made an impassioned defense of “news” on his HBO show Friday night, with, of course, a few ad hominem attacks thrown in just for yucks.  In his show-ending soliloquy, Maher said people no longer exchange news around the water cooler because “as a culture, we don’t have enough in common anymore.” And that’s because the Internet, which was supposed to unite the world, has become too adept at serving us personalized content. Do you know what I saw on Yahoo’s front page this morning? No, you don’t, because mine isn’t the same as yours. People get news feed now that just spit back customized stories based on what we’ve clicked on in the past. So I for example, might see a lot of stories about — pot, American history and, of course, Christian mingle. Whereas Ted Nugent just gets ads for Prozac and bullets. So yes, welcome to the brave new world of micro-targeting, which, look, is often harmless. No one gets hurt if my computer tells me ‘you bought James Taylor’s greatest hits, you might also enjoy this pillow and these sleeping pills.’ More