I took a journey into the internet see-saw and tried to journey back to a neutral place.
For days, months or years, I have heard the term “net neutrality”, and, with very little effort, managed to give this very little thought, before now. To have the full resources of the internet open to all seems like a given but the true state of affairs are quite different. Connected events are making this topic impossible to ignore.
Event: Mr. Donald Trump has decimated his rivals on the way to becoming the voice of the Republicans on the basis of fear-mongering and polarization.
But I’m sure that the voice of opposition will give me a non-polarizing view point, I thought to myself.
Event: Mrs. Hillary Clinton’s twitter opposition to The Donald wasn’t at all what I expected. On the day that Ted Cruz bowed out, I expected Ms. Clinton’s twitter feed to espouse positive news about America and smart Democratic plans to keep America…great. What I found instead was that 6 out of 7 posts were about the dirty tactics of her opponent Mr. Trump and the 7th post was for fundraising.
Oh okay…But I’m sometimes lazy and like to learn politics from the opinions of informed friends…surely if look around the room, there’s moderate voices that are being listened to by the moderate.
Event: I recently spent time in Munich drinking beer with (among others) a Pittsburg USA teenager who kept trying to stump me, and me trying to stump him, with a horrifying back-and-forth on nasty U.S. 2016 campaign political stories. ”Yes, I read that. Did you see this?…Yes I saw that. How about this?” Neither I nor him could stump the other because (embarrassingly) we both had read all of our news from the same source: “f”.
Hmm. If we’re reading the same news, and it’s always “extremist” in nature…then we are rewarding non-balanced thinking with our clicks and comments.
Also disturbing, “f” is sending me and my new friend the same posts even though our demographic, age, religious views, and geographic location are skewed.
Impatience is the commonality.
Event: Later that week, I watched a net video of a momma elephant block traffic on a highway after which her family – two baby elephants and the daddy – lumber across and disappear safely into the foliage. Loving this, I save the link and watch it with my wife a few minutes later.
The chase/race for clicks has made the fast consumption of online bullying, outing, shaming, tenderness, affection, and hope sensational. The pace of consumption is fast and the flood of information is faster. Clicks drives both sales and media and we, the impatient consumers of information, are foregoing carefully researched news for shoot-at-the hip journalism from untrusted media sources.
Where do we look for unbiased news? Established media sources, surely. I started digging and found that BBC was accused of bias in a recent poll, the results of which uncovered that, while more people consider the BBC an accurate and trustworthy source of TV news than any other channel in the UK, less than half of those polled regarded BBC to be “impartial and unbiased”.
Balanced or not, biased or not, I wonder to myself whether I have the patience to read a long article. I’m often clipping Medium and New York Times posts to read on my next flight, or on a rainy day…but, when it comes down to it, I tend to do my most focused work on flights and, on rainy days, I watch Netflix. Net neutrality is being rejected by ourselves in our thirst for fast information and rejection of carefully researched long-form articles.
Appreciating the irony that this blog is appearing on the Clausehound.com blog, which is a commercial site, I’m happy to announce that our Clausehound team is starting to explore whether our site’s “document bursting” technology can further neutrality through political transparency and, to this end, a small team has commenced the development of Beacon, a legislation analysis tool.
Whether it’s WIki Leaks or otherwise, I am on the hunt for “slow eating” and balanced journalism. Please write to me with your suggestions on how to “push” balanced viewpoints to the mainstream.
–CEO, Clausehound Inc.