Monday, December 5, 2011

The internet isn't really bringing us together...

Excellent analysis by Ramesh Srinivasan, in the Washington Post

"We’ve long heard that the Internet was supposed to unite people of different cultural and political persuasions. Yet, despite the explosion of online voices, social-media users rarely access opinions that differ from their own, and many social-media sites — with their bifurcated like/dislike, join/don’t join ethos — only perpetuate the sound-bite culture of older media.Not only are our Facebook friends similar to us (we usually connect through mutual friends and shared interests), but researcher Ethan Zuckerman has shown that the sites we visit reaffirm our political and cultural preconceptions. This homogenization reaches the very machinery of social media — its algorithms — which tailor search results or Facebook feeds according to what the systems “think” users will find most interesting."
I would venture that TV and Radio probably did a lot more to bring us together than the internet. This because of the more limited number of voices in those media. It is simply more unifying that everybody sees the same TV show and listen to the same radio. This was also a reason for why totalitarian ideologies as fascism and soviet style communism were keen users of radio and movies.  

In a way it is a similar experience that I found from moving from a city, to the country side and back again. In the city you can easily congregate with your own mind-fellows and age-fellows, even the same old gang you went to school with. Even if you live in an environment with a lot of information and opinions around you don't often confront these other opinions. When you live in the country side you interact with the few people that are there, regardless of age, interest or political or religious orientation. Perhaps this is exaggerated a bit, but that is what you do to make a tendency clear.

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