AA Morris Presents: The Proper Gander At Propaganda Podcast
Podcast Episode 68: Lost In The Digital Matrix Maze Part Three
Examining the history of artificial world crafting, from the early 20th century newsreels to the early 21st century virtual and augmented reality.
"Sunstein on the Internet and Political Polarization"
by Cass R. Sunstein December 14, 2007
"In 1995 the technology specialist Nicholas Negroponte predicted the emergence of "the Daily Me" -- a newspaper that you design personally, with each component carefully screened and chosen in advance. For many of us, Negroponte's prediction is coming true. As a result of the Internet, personalization is everywhere. If you want to read essays arguing that climate change is a fraud and a hoax, or that the American economy is about to collapse, the technology is available to allow you to do exactly that. If you are bored and upset by the topic of genocide, or by recent events in Iraq or Pakistan, you can avoid those subjects entirely. With just a few clicks, you can find dozens of Web sites that show you are quite right to like what you already like and think what you already think."
"The creation of enclaves of like-minded people had a second effect: It made both liberal groups and conservative groups significantly more homogeneous -- and thus squelched diversity. Before people started to talk, many groups displayed a fair amount of internal disagreement on the three issues. The disagreements were greatly reduced as a result of a mere 15-minute discussion. In their anonymous statements, group members showed far more consensus after discussion than before. The discussion greatly widened the rift between liberals and conservatives on all three issues."
"The Internet makes it exceedingly easy for people to replicate the Colorado experiment online, whether or not that is what they are trying to do. Those who think that affirmative action is a good idea can, and often do, read reams of material that support their view; they can, and often do, exclude any and all material that argues the other way. Those who dislike carbon taxes can find plenty of arguments to that effect. Many liberals jump from one liberal blog to another, and many conservatives restrict their reading to points of view that they find congenial. In short, those who want to find support for what they already think, and to insulate themselves from disturbing topics and contrary points of view, can do that far more easily than they can if they skim through a decent newspaper or weekly newsmagazine."
"The Internet makes it easy for people to create separate communities and niches, and in a free society, much can be said on behalf of both. They can make life a lot more fun; they can reduce loneliness and spur creativity. They can even promote democratic self-government, because enclaves are indispensable for incubating new ideas and perspectives that can strengthen public debate".
"But it is important to understand that countless editions of the Daily Me can also produce serious problems of mutual suspicion, unjustified rage, and social fragmentation -- and that these problems will result from the reliable logic of social interactions."
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