Monday, June 8, 2009

The Daily Me

Nicholas Kristof - The Daily Me -

I came upon this article through a link from Dan Gardner's blog, Citizen Katzenjammer. How I got to this article is indicative of how news aggregators are changing journalism. The fear is that they may be responsible for much greater narrowing, rather than expanding, of our viewpoints. As Kristof points out
...the public is increasingly seeking its news not from mainstream television networks or ink-on-dead-trees but from grazing online.

When we go online, each of us is our own editor, our own gatekeeper. We select the kind of news and opinions that we care most about.

Nicholas Negroponte of M.I.T. has called this emerging news product The Daily Me.
As much as I claim to be open to the ideas of others, I admit that I succumb to gatekeeping of my news. I usually cringe and quickly dismiss the writings of David Warren, (whom I perjoratively judge to be just to the right of Ghengis Khan), but will peruse for hours the postings at Energy Bulletin or Culture Change. I embrace the ideas that support my viewpoint, and quickly dismiss those that don't.

Kristof argues that this can lead to intellectual ghettoes as people are attracted to likeminded communities.

The effect of The Daily Me would be to insulate us further in our own hermetically sealed political chambers. One of last year’s more fascinating books was Bill Bishop’s “The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing Us Apart.” He argues that Americans increasingly are segregating themselves into communities, clubs and churches where they are surrounded by people who think the way they do.

Almost half of Americans now live in counties that vote in landslides either for Democrats or for Republicans, he said. In the 1960s and 1970s, in similarly competitive national elections, only about one-third lived in landslide counties.

“The nation grows more politically segregated — and the benefit that ought to come with having a variety of opinions is lost to the righteousness that is the special entitlement of homogeneous groups,” Mr. Bishop writes.
Kristof admits to being
...guilty myself of selective truth-seeking on the Web. The blog I turn to for insight into Middle East news is often Professor Juan Cole’s, because he’s smart, well-informed and sensible — in other words, I often agree with his take. I’m less likely to peruse the blog of Daniel Pipes, another Middle East expert who is smart and well-informed — but who strikes me as less sensible, partly because I often disagree with him.
Who knew that keeping an open mind could be so challenging?

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