Paper by Anastasia Kozyreva, et al: “Low-quality and misleading information online can hijack people’s attention, often by evoking curiosity, outrage, or anger. Resisting certain types of information and actors online requires people to adopt new mental habits that help them avoid being tempted by attention-grabbing and potentially harmful content. We argue that digital information literacy must include the competence of critical ignoring—choosing what to ignore and where to invest one’s limited attentional capacities. We review three types of cognitive strategies for implementing critical ignoring: self-nudging, in which one ignores temptations by removing them from one’s digital environments; lateral reading, in which one vets information by leaving the source and verifying its credibility elsewhere online; and the do-not-feed-the-trolls heuristic, which advises one to not reward malicious actors with attention. We argue that these strategies implementing critical ignoring should be part of school curricula on digital information literacy. Teaching the competence of critical ignoring requires a paradigm shift in educators’ thinking, from a sole focus on the power and promise of paying close attention to an additional emphasis on the power of ignoring. Encouraging students and other online users to embrace critical ignoring can empower them to shield themselves from the excesses, traps, and information disorders of today’s attention economy…(More)”.
Article by Alicia Wanless: “After the Second World War, European science was suffering. Scientists were leaving Europe in pursuit of safety and work opportunities, among other reasons. To stem the exodus and unite the community around a vision of science for peace, in 1949, a transatlantic group of scholars proposed the creation of a world-class physics research facility in Europe. The grand vision was for this center to unlock the mysteries of the universe. Their white paper laid the foundation for the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN), which today supports fundamental research in physics across an international community of more than 10,000 scientists from twenty-three member states and more than seventy other nations. Together, researchers at CERN built cutting-edge instruments to observe dozens of subatomic particles for the first time. And along the way they invented the World Wide Web, which was originally conceived as a tool to empower CERN’s distributed teams.
Such large-scale collaboration is once again needed to connect scholars, policymakers, and practitioners internationally and to accelerate research, this time to unlock the mysteries of the information environment. Democracies around the world are grappling with how to safeguard democratic values against online abuse, the proliferation of illiberal and xenophobic narratives, malign interference, and a host of other challenges related to a rapidly evolving information environment. What are the conditions within the information environment that can foster democratic societies and encourage active citizen participation? Sadly, the evidence needed to guide policymaking and social action in this domain is sorely lacking.
Researchers, governments, and civil society must come together to help. This paper explores how CERN can serve as a model for developing the Institute for Research on the Information Environment (IRIE). By connecting disciplines and providing shared engineering resources and capacity-building across the world’s democracies, IRIE will scale up applied research to enable evidence-based policymaking and implementation…(More)”.
Paper by Jason A. Martin, Lindita Camaj & Gerry Lanosga: “This study applies a typology of public data transparency infrastructure and the contextualism framework for analysing journalism practice to examine patterns in data journalism production. The goal was to identify differences in approaches to acquiring and reporting on data around the world based on comparisons of public data transparency infrastructure. Data journalists from 34 countries were interviewed to understand challenges in data access, strategies used to overcome obstacles, innovation in collaboration, and attitudes about open-data advocacy. Analysis reveals themes of different approaches to journalistic interventionism by overcoming structural obstacles and inventive techniques journalists use to acquire and build their own data sets even in the most restrictive government contexts. Data journalists are increasingly connected with colleagues, third parties, and the public in using data, eschewing notions of competition for collaboration, and using crowdsourcing to address gaps in data. Patterns of direct and indirect activism are highlighted. Results contribute to a better understanding of global data journalism practice by revealing the influence of public data transparency infrastructure as a major factor that constrains or creates opportunities for data journalism practice as a subfield. Findings also broaden the cross-national base of empirical evidence on the developing practices and attitudes of data journalists….(More)”.
Paper by Philipp Lorenz-Spreen, Lisa Oswald, Stephan Lewandowsky & Ralph Hertwig: “One of today’s most controversial and consequential issues is whether the global uptake of digital media is causally related to a decline in democracy. We conducted a systematic review of causal and correlational evidence (N = 496 articles) on the link between digital media use and different political variables. Some associations, such as increasing political participation and information consumption, are likely to be beneficial for democracy and were often observed in autocracies and emerging democracies. Other associations, such as declining political trust, increasing populism and growing polarization, are likely to be detrimental to democracy and were more pronounced in established democracies. While the impact of digital media on political systems depends on the specific variable and system in question, several variables show clear directions of associations. The evidence calls for research efforts and vigilance by governments and civil societies to better understand, design and regulate the interplay of digital media and democracy….(More)”
Book by Heather Ford: “A close reading of Wikipedia’s article on the Egyptian Revolution reveals the complexity inherent in establishing the facts of events as they occur and are relayed to audiences near and far.
Wikipedia bills itself as an encyclopedia built on neutrality, authority, and crowd-sourced consensus. Platforms like Google and digital assistants like Siri distribute Wikipedia’s facts widely, further burnishing its veneer of impartiality. But as Heather Ford demonstrates in Writing the Revolution, the facts that appear on Wikipedia are often the result of protracted power struggles over how data are created and used, how history is written and by whom, and the very definition of facts in a digital age.
In Writing the Revolution, Ford looks critically at how the Wikipedia article about the 2011 Egyptian Revolution evolved over the course of a decade, both shaping and being shaped by the Revolution as it happened. When data are published in real time, they are subject to an intense battle over their meaning across multiple fronts. Ford answers key questions about how Wikipedia’s so-called consensus is arrived at; who has the power to write dominant histories and which knowledges are actively rejected; how these battles play out across the chains of circulation in which data travel; and whether history is now written by algorithms…(More)”
Book by Sylvain Parasie: “…examines how data journalists and news organizations have navigated the tensions between traditional journalistic values and new technologies. Offering an in-depth analysis of how computing has become part of the daily practices of journalists, this book proposes ways for journalism to evolve in order to serve democratic societies…(More)”.
Paper by Andy Cao, Jason M. Lindo & Jiee Zhong: “We will investigate whether Donald Trump’s “Chinese Virus” tweets contributed to the rise of anti-Asian incidents. We find that the number of incidents spiked following Trump’s initial “Chinese Virus” tweets and the subsequent dramatic rise in internet search activity for the phrase. Difference-in-differences and event-study analyses leveraging spatial variation indicate that this spike in anti-Asian incidents was significantly more pronounced in counties that supported Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election relative to those that supported Hillary Clinton. We estimate that anti-Asian incidents spiked by 4000 percent in Trump-supporting counties, over and above the spike observed in Clinton-supporting counties…(More)”.
Article by Charlie Warzel: “…occasionally, something happens that is so blatantly and obviously misguided that trying to explain it rationally makes you sound ridiculous. Such is the case with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’s recent ruling in NetChoice v. Paxton. Earlier this month, the court upheld a preposterous Texas law stating that online platforms with more than 50 million monthly active users in the United States no longer have First Amendment rights regarding their editorial decisions. Put another way, the law tells big social-media companies that they can’t moderate the content on their platforms. YouTube purging terrorist-recruitment videos? Illegal. Twitter removing a violent cell of neo-Nazis harassing people with death threats? Sorry, that’s censorship, according to Andy Oldham, a judge of the United States Court of Appeals and the former general counsel to Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
A state compelling social-media companies to host all user content without restrictions isn’t merely, as the First Amendment litigation lawyer Ken White put it on Twitter, “the most angrily incoherent First Amendment decision I think I’ve ever read.” It’s also the type of ruling that threatens to blow up the architecture of the internet. To understand why requires some expertise in First Amendment law and content-moderation policy, and a grounding in what makes the internet a truly transformational technology. So I called up some legal and tech-policy experts and asked them to explain the Fifth Circuit ruling—and its consequences—to me as if I were a precocious 5-year-old with a strange interest in jurisprudence…(More)”
Essay by B.D. McClay: “Attention is finite, the record of how we spend it public, and it is easy enough to check if somebody who tweets every day about Ukraine has ever tweeted about Yemen. Many people are inclined to give somebody they trust a pass; behavior that might attract loud condemnation of a stranger might be ignored if done by a friend. Sometimes, such inconsistencies, added up, indicate that somebody is untrustworthy, that her commitments are insincere, and that there is something manipulative about her public persona. But most of the time, I would hazard, they indicate that people do not live their lives striving for perfect consistency….
The Internet, however, has only one currency, and that currency is attention. On the Internet, we endlessly raise awareness, we platform and deplatform, we signal-boost and call out, and we argue about where our attention should be directed, and how. What we pay attention to and the language in which we pay attention are the only realities worth considering, which is one reason why stories are so often framed by the idea that nobody is talking about a problem, when the problem is often quite endlessly talked about—just not solved. Why isn’t the media covering this story? is a common refrain that is just as often accompanied by a link to an article about the story, which is how the complainer learned about it in the first place.
Attention can be paid and registered in many forms, but you pay attention online by making it known that you are paying attention. Your own expenditure is worthless unless other people are paying attention to you. As they do in regard to the currency of the analog world, people feel as though they get to judge how other people pay attention. Even though most actions are undertaken with some idea of gaining attention, to do something out of a blatant desire to attract attention is gauche and discrediting. People whose job is to translate attention into real money—celebrities, “influencers,” and so on—are often left walking a thin and ridiculous line. They must draw attention to some larger event going on in the world lest they be judged selfish, but their attempts to do so mostly underscore that drawing attention to something means very little…(More)”.
Article by Angie Basiouny: “People who read fake news online aren’t doomed to fall into a deep echo chamber where the only sound they hear is their own ideology, according to a revealing new study from Wharton.
Surprisingly, readers who regularly browse fake news stories served up by social media algorithms are more likely to diversify their news diet by seeking out mainstream sources. These well-rounded news junkies make up more than 97% of online readers, compared with the scant 2.8% who consume online fake news exclusively.
“We find that these echo chambers that people worry about are very shallow. This idea that the internet is creating an echo chamber is just not holding out to be true,” said Senthil Veeraraghavan, a Wharton professor of operations, information and decisions.
Veeraraghavan is co-author of the paper, “Does Fake News Create Echo Chambers?” It was also written by Ken Moon, Wharton professor of operations, information and decisions, and Jiding Zhang, an assistant operations management professor at New York University Shanghai who earned her doctorate at Wharton.
The study, which examined the browsing activity of nearly 31,000 households during 2017, offers empirical evidence that goes against popular beliefs about echo chambers. While echo chambers certainly are dark and dangerous places, they aren’t metaphorical black holes that suck in every person who reads an article about, say, Obama birtherism theory or conspiracies about COVID-19 vaccines. The study found that households exposed to fake news actually increase their exposure to mainstream news by 9.1%.
“We were surprised, although we were very aware going in that there was much that we did not know,” Moon said. “One thing we wanted to see is how much fake news is out there. How do we figure out what’s fake and what’s not, and who is producing the fake news and why? The economic structure of that matters from a business perspective.”…(More)”