Showing posts with label Ethan Zuckermann. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ethan Zuckermann. Show all posts

Monday, July 23, 2012

Why the Web Divides Us


The Internet has changed many things. But it has not changed the insular habits of mind that make us replicate in our online social networks the physical networks we already have; in other words, connecting with only those who share our interests, laying waste to the utopia of a truly connected world. Ethan Zuckerman's older TED talk on this topic - here . Author Eli Pariser 2011 TED talk on the dangers of a  "personalized web" above.

Both Zukerman and Pariser arrive at the same point: the need for algorithms that let us discover what we want to know as well as what we need to know. But that conclusion still sounds vague. The question is: can developers come up with curatoral algorithms that can look into a mish mash of  unfamilairity and spot in a culture alien to us, and in a context completly different from what we know, the sameness of things we value and cherish? Such curation is a tall order even for humans.

In the 2012 spring issue of the Wilson Quarterly, Ethan Zuckerman argues :
A central paradox of this connected age is that while it’s easier than ever to share information and perspectives from different parts of the world, we may be encountering a narrower picture of the world than we did in less connected days... Despite these lowered barriers, today’s American television news features less than half as many international stories as were broadcast in the 1970s... Search engines tell us what we want to know, but they can’t tell us what we might need to know. Social media such as Facebook or Twitter might tell you to pay attention to cassette recordings in Iran, but only if your friends include Iranians. Social media are a powerful discovery engine, but what you’re discovering is what your friends know. If you’re lucky enough to have a diverse, knowledgeable set of friends online, they may lead you in unexpected directions. But birds of a feather flock together, both online and offline, and your friends are more likely to help you discover the unexpected in your hometown than in another land.
The most powerful discovery engines online may be curated publications such as The New York Times or The Guardian. Editors of these publications are driven by a mission to provide their audiences with the broad picture of the world they need in order to be effective citizens, consumers, and businesspeople. But professional curators have their inevitable biases and blind spots. Much as we know to search for the news we think will affect our lives, editors deploy reporting resources toward parts of the world with strategic and economic significance. When mysteries unfold in corners of the world we’re used to ignoring, such as Tunisia, curators are often left struggling to catch up. The limits of online information sources are a challenge both for us and for the people building the next generation of online tools. 
If we rigorously examine the media we’re encountering online, looking for topics and places we hear little about, we may be able to change our behavior, adding different and dissenting views to our social networks, seeking out new sources of news. But this task would be vastly easier if the architects of Internet tools took up the cause of helping to broaden worldviews. Facebook already notices that you’ve failed to “friend” a high school classmate and tries to connect you. It could look for strangers in Africa or India who share your interests and broker an introduction. Google tracks every search you undertake so it can more effectively target ads to you. It could also use that information to help you discover compelling content about topics you’ve never explored, adding a serendipity engine to its formidable search function. Why aren’t engineers racing to build the new tools that will help unravel the mysteries of a connected world? They may be waiting for indicators that we want them and are ready to use them.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Africa: Ethan Zuckerman on Widening Our Web - TED Global 2010



Ethan Zuckerman (My Heart's in Accra...) on geeky big white Americans, twitter demographics, segregated conversations, soccer, Brazilians on twitter, world isn't flat; it's lumpy, global traffic ≠ global connections- infrastructure, American media bias, distorted (Alisa Miller) maps, Afrigadget, new media lazy activism or Morozov's Ipod liberalism, global airline traffic flow, imaginary cosmopolitanism, Global Voices, Madagascar's Fuku club, wisdom of the flock, xenophiles and bursting out of your Twitter filter bubble. Whole presentation + slides - here. Youtube - here.

...couldn't help smiling when he used the "blogger=DJ" metaphor (it's a great metaphor - i've also used it; pinched it here), and he admits that he is pretty much convinced that bloggers--i.e. pointers to cool infomation--are  increasingly going to be the "bridge figures"--not to be confused with Nick Kristof's "bridge characters" ;-)--through which our worlds are going to be made more global via the widening of the web. Knock on wood.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Africa: Ethan Zuckerman on International Reporting

As we reach for the fullness of this participatory media age, Ethan--my  heart's in Accra--Zuckerman writes in the Spring issue of Daedalus of all the experiments--everything from ProPublica to Global Post to allAfrica.com to Global Voices--being used to stem the receeding tide of international reporting as we see the last foreign news bureaus shut their doors. He builds on the the use of new media in Iran's ongoing Green Revolution to the conclusion that:
If building an audience interested in international news is a core challenge for fledgling newsrooms to overcome, the events in Iran may represent another revolutionary change. More than 480,000 users of Twitter commented on events in Iran during the first two weeks of the protests; 16 more than 160,000 have used a popular tool to turn their Twitter icons green in support of protesters. These users were not just interested in the story–they felt they were part of the story, actively helping to amplify reports from the ground rather than passively consuming news. Reporting international news by letting users become part of the reporting and amplication process might represent a chance to bridge interest gaps that otherwise threaten to encourage parochialism. More.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Media: Visualizing an Ecosystem

NYT profiles Ethan Zuckerman of the must-read "My Heart's In Accra" blog for his work on Media Cloud:
Media Cloud is a system that lets you see the flow of the media. The Internet is fundamentally altering the way that news is produced and distributed, but there are few comprehensive approaches to understanding the nature of these changes. Media Cloud automatically builds an archive of news stories and blog posts from the web, applies language processing, and gives you ways to analyze and visualize the data -- mediacloud.org
In light of that explanation, I'm thinking of news media as an ecosystem and someone has come up with a way not only to visualize it in flux but also to take time-lapse snap shots of it, play those shots back, and show us just how public debate and opinion are shaped.

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