Earlier today I watched a terrific TED presentation from Eli Pariser. He explains how Google and Facebook are using algorithms based on our past site viewing patterns to give us all different search results and newsfeed updates.
As well as Google and Facebook’s algorithms, I think there’s also a natural pattern evolving with twitter whereby we’ve started building our own silos of self-confirming opinion. During the 2011 Election I’ve seen this quite clearly.
I’ve followed people on twitter over the years because I found their insights interesting. But what I also found in the Election was that most people I follow are left-leaning liberals who had little time for John Key and his approach to media. Kind of like me looking in the mirror.
I found that a little boring and ended up ignoring a number of people and looking for some new folks to follow to give my view on the Election a bit of balance.
As Eli Pariser points out in his presentation, news editors of TV, radio and print media may have had particular left/right leanings, but at the end of the day their position has only been sustainable if they offered a bit of professional balance. Just look at Fox News in the US. Widely viewed, but only by a limited audience.
To really create or write a good news article it’s important that the “other side’s” view is articulated, read or viewed and understood. Then people can make up their own opinion based on both sides’ arguments. That’s a democracy.
If we all just see the same old information from a select few with similar views, how will we grow?