The Sock Diary

Musings of a part-time Sweaty Sock.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

What will the newspapers be like 2014?

EPIC 2014 suggests news and content streamed to us by a meta-national tweaked by freelance editors, our demographics, buying and browsing habits, and social circle.

To me this sounds like a pretty harrowing vision. The driver for the profiling is, on the surface, to better fit content to what you want to see and hear. Underneath, it's to better target advertising at you. Either way, you will become the target of your own automated sychophant, or group of sychophants, which air-brush the world to better fit what you're comfortable with. It will become even more of an effort to find the underlying truth of anything, because your friendly search engine and news aggregator will start with targetting searches at articles you will probably agree with. Stuff that may supply a different point of view, or a mroe than slight mismatch with your world-view will be on the second, or third results page, or whatever type of browser "page" we have by then.

Think about it now: it's difficult as netizen to make sure you read or listen to contrary viewpoints. In my case, I find it extremely hard to read the blogs of supporters of Bush et al. I'd much rather skim through Rising Hegemon or Rumour Control. If your social circle is modding up comfy world-view stuff by reading and watching it, your friendly GoogleBot will pick that up first, you'll read it, that increases it's mod score, so others will read it... it's a vicious (or virtuous, depending or point of view) circle. Eventually we'll all end up reading the nice sanitised faintly fluffy outlook of the world that'll say nothing substantive and give us all the impression of hard news. McDonald McNews.

Where will we be if we just hear and see what confirms our own world view? Will that be Nirvana? Probably for some. Will it be Hell? Probably, for others that aren't being fed, socially supported, made refugees, etc. The fewer the voices saying "Hold on a minute", the more they can be ridculed and ignored (Doctor David Kelly).

So, maybe the solution would be to have software, our sychophantic buddy, that forces us to be exposed to other, possibly uncomfortable, points of view? Maybe this should take 20% uncomfortable, or non-demographic/social circle matching, and stuff it in our news feed? But who'd do that? We're more likely to not read it, or not pay attention to it, so there's less revenue in doing it, rather than feeding us the opiate of confirming our own views (as it were).

Open Source or government mandated, i.e. a philosophical software choice (usually) or a law.

Be interested in any comments as I know I am glass-half-empty quite a lot :)


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