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At a recent TED meeting, Eli Pariser of MoveOn had some really excellent insights about the promise of the WWW, and its new and growing limitations.

He's afraid we're moving into a worldwide web of one.

As you know, the past few years have seen us move from print and tv media being the gatekeepers of information - deciding what the public should read or hear - to the internet. A potentially limitless pool of knowledge awaits.

Or does it? As Google and FaceBook and others become ever more clever in their algorithmic logic, they're beginning to identify exactly what it is they think we want to know about. We've seen it in the online advertising that follows us everywhere, reminding us to buy that lamp or rug or plane ticket to HI. But it's far more insidious than that - the 'friends' you follow most on FB become self selecting; you see info on them daily. You don't read about all the others' lives you're supposedly following.

Based on my coming to DK regularly, and on being interested in renewables, the online search engines have determined that I want to read what Krugman and Kristofsen say, not what is said by Brooks and other blowhards.

While that suits my tastes, it doesn't suit my need for wider knowledge, for a more balanced perspective. It just reinforces what I already think.

We joke (or not) about how FOX viewers are force fed one line of crap and don't know there's a different world out there. Well, apparently so am I. Literally, what comes up on my Yahoo or Google or NYT news page is different from what may come up on my Uncle Bob's.

No wonder we're not all talking the same 'facts'. We're all seeing different studies and opinions, and having a more and more difficult time finding opposition.

Pariser makes a strong case to members of the audience - including two of the founders of Google - that future algorithms owe us "a sense of public life, of civic responsibility" to hear points of view that challenge us, that make us uncomfortable. As he pleads with them, "You need to give us back some of the control ... we need it to connect us to the new ideas, new perspectives."

He's right.

Excellent, 9 minute video of him speaking, which I can't embed here....

Originally posted to nzanne on Wed May 04, 2011 at 08:45 AM PDT.

Also republished by InfoWar, A Perfect Conversation, and Community Spotlight.


How much time do you spend reading/listening to alternative - let's say, 'conservative' - points of view?

53%29 votes
27%15 votes
11%6 votes
5%3 votes
0%0 votes
1%1 votes

| 54 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips? Ideas (25+ / 0-)

    on how we can ensure being better informed? Or at least, on being as well informed as we think we are?

  •  I Saw This Coming With Cookies At Least 15 Yrs (10+ / 0-)

    ago. It's been a big issue for me because the one mark I've left on the world, which is my livelihood from now on, depended on a university-like serendipity where several utterly unrelated fields came together in front of me to suggest an out of box solution. If I'd been developing within the last few years rather than 25 years ago, at least one essential element of serendipity wouldn't have happened.

    Balkanization via self selecting communities is the inevitable result of allowing any area of life to be operated on a market basis. It's one way in which markets are the opposite of culture.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed May 04, 2011 at 08:59:46 AM PDT

    •  Caveat--There Is No Alternate "Conservative" (8+ / 0-)

      point of view. All the major crises facing the country and the American people are founded on counterfactuality. There isn't at the moment an legitimate or fact-tolerant conservative alternative within the U.S.

      Externally we might take an issue like single payer vs nonprofit corporate health insurance. That's a debate that has legitimate different sides to it, both of which I would study.

      But it's not an American conservative vs progressive debate here.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Wed May 04, 2011 at 09:02:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good comments, Gooserock - (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        though I would disagree, slightly. I still think there is an alternate conservative pov, though I would agree that it's not based on facts. Or, facts as we know them.

        I'm just saying that I rarely encounter conservatives or hear what their 'facts' are, therefore I am as in as much as an enclave as they are....

        Your comment about your business coming of age at a better moment is most interesting. I'm trying to do some online marketing right now, and am finding it quite frustrating - it's a whole new world, and very complex in weird little ways.

      •  Right. American conservatives aren't opposed (0+ / 0-)

        to a single-payer health system.

        They're opposed to Death Panels and Marxism.

        Is that what you mean?

        "We come on a peace thing. White flag?" "White flag!"

        by VictorLaszlo on Wed May 04, 2011 at 12:41:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I empty my cache and memory (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    leema, nzanne, Larsstephens

    almost every day. Do you suppose that has any effect? Is there any decent alternative search engine to google? And, as an aside, is there ANY way to contact google to let them know what we think or alert them to bugs (like the phrase search that no longer works)?

    I'm a proud consumer of the United States of America. CITIZEN! I MEANT CITIZEN!

    by Audri on Wed May 04, 2011 at 01:06:48 PM PDT

    •  rec'd for you sig line (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Larsstephens, Audri

      oh ye great consumer of the United Corporations of the World.  

      Would seem that you have noticed that the use of the word consumer is becoming increasingly wide spread and has almost subsumed the good citizens of this country.

      "I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong." Richard Feynman

      by leema on Wed May 04, 2011 at 02:01:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think we have "fans" rather than "patriots" too (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Fans of political parties ...

        Fans of the Constitution ...

        Fans of the country ...

        The job of fans is to buy little signifiers (flag pins, yellow ribbons) and cheer at suitable moments. Its a consumer relationship. It's a shallow devotion.

        The duty (note the word) of patriots is to be willing to sacrifice something (taxes, personal advantage, service or even life).

        I suspect that quite a few people are also fans of Christianity rather than Christians.

        Conservation! Because the cheapest energy is the energy you don't use.

        by ohiolibrarian on Wed May 04, 2011 at 07:45:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Audri - I hate it when I ask real questions, (0+ / 0-)

      like you just did, and no one gets back to me, so...:

      I don't know. Well, kind of. Yahoo and Google and FB and evidently also the NYT and Wash Post and other major news outlets are all using these algorithms, according to Eli Pariser in his talk. They're trying to be more 'useful' both to us and to advertisers, which is a good goal, but they are becoming self limiting.

      Emptying your cache probably does help - I'm not good about that, personally. It must help.

      Google does have folks monitoring Gmail forums etc, so in theory letting them know about glitches will work but I agree, it's rare to get feedback or resolution.

  •  I don't feel insulated at all... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larsstephens, rfall

    since we have a very adversarial climate all extremes are in play. I can pick and choose and wind my way through all of it and come to my own conclusions. But then, I've always been a weirdo.

  •  Great diary. I try to stay informed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larsstephens, tardis10

    Of course most media is to the right of me, so there are tons of opinions with which I do not agree but that i hear.

    Plus we have to dd the amount of bullshit that gets spewed at us.

    There is no reason to listen to racism, or sexism, homophobia.  One needs to look hard to find alternate points of view that are valid.

    Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn. - Poor Richard's Almanac 1755 The government exists to protect us from the thugs who got rich ripping off our ancestors. - Mungley 2011

    by mungley on Wed May 04, 2011 at 03:55:08 PM PDT

  •  So again, the question is - (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aidos, Cassandra Waites, Larsstephens

    Despite our own personal best attempts to stay well informed (and the belief we are doing so, based on clicking through to the article we see) - are we seeing the full truth? Are we just seeing the margins of truth?

    I'm a little weirded out by this, I admit. I like to come to my own decisions, thank you.

    •  Well, I actually read many oppostional (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tardis10, nzanne

      writers and activists, here, even if I do not
      tip nor rec nor clik through or other wise
      share their perspectives.

      Even though my blogroll is chockfull of lefty goodness,
      there are many screechy leftist portals that do not 'work'
      for me at all. I also have many aggregator type sites I visit
      that offer links to politics, news, art, music, literature,
      culture, science, and technology writing from many and
      diverse sources. Any one who watches any amount of
      broadcast or cable TV or listens to any sources of news,
       information, or music on radio or other audio only channels
      are unavoidably exposed to most of the Mania Stream Medias
      memes and current marketing agendas. Just from the ads alone.

      I also read some of the corporate owned online
      local reportage, but I can't tolerate the local AM
      hate wing radio station programming, though they
      do offer local sports coverage and MLB baseball.

      I also live in an area of the mid south that Obama
      lost by double digits in 2008, so I am inundated
      every day with every sort of vile and racist talking
      point about current affairs that one can imagine.

      If you want exposure to differing viewpoints,
      listen to the callers on CSPANS Washington Journal,
      or read the comments on any corporate owned
      online news service like yahoo or MSN wire stories.

      Not much wisdom to be found, and more than a bit
      of unintentional humor, but is it truly a reflection of
      our informed citizenry? Hard to say. But I know
      what I choose to believe and what I agree with easily enough.

      In most regards, the Great Orange Satan does a very
      good job of providing a good overview in many of these
      areas, if one takes the time and effort to discover them.
      Institutional ideological biases included and all.

      If it was your only source of information, you wouldn't
      be as misinformed, say, as my boss, who listens to
      nothing except Fox and reads only the WSJ blogs.
      To be honest, my stream here is overflowing, and I
      have a hard time just reading and keeping up with that.

      Diversity in sources is good, essential for true balance.
      But one must consider the sources for veracity, yes?

      Thanks for all of your efforts.

  •  The Bubble (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, nzanne

    People insulate themselves.  We all do it.  Even if you get really good at opening a door in that bubble there are times when it just remains closed and we’re stuck with our own my list of "same-old-same old stuff".  

    Various media professionals are trying to get on “your list”.  Their ability to do that is made easier by the flood of stuff they shoot at you or allow you to choose from.  This is all well known.

    But on-the-other side of the coin—“the forces of good” (whomever that might represent to you) have a greater ability now to reach into “the bubble”.   Personally, I’ve yet to see that big company that “does no evil”.  I think we’re only at “web 2.0” and it’s still quite a ways to “web XP”.  

    My own dream is to see the tech turned in the “public interest” by endless monitoring of these big companies, these big networks.  Move-On should form a team that does what is possible now (and a lot is possible now), to test the companies…and test them some more…and then test them further.  

    And the people who run these large companies and their subs should always be aware that it is much easier to bring down a Fortune 500 management team, then it is to overthrow the government of a nation with tens of millions of people in it.

    Epigentic science ...reveals that we are not "victims" but in fact "masters" of our genes. --Bruce H. Lipton, PH.D.

    by williamjustin on Wed May 04, 2011 at 08:12:49 PM PDT

  •  Great point and viewpoint. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Much appreciated.

    Republished to DKos InfoWar.


    "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross."

    -- Sinclair Lewis

    Arizona: Land of Ihre Papiere, Bitte.

    by Dunvegan on Wed May 04, 2011 at 09:57:49 PM PDT

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