Monday, April 18, 2016

#109 / Facebook Tells Me What I Need To Know

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Jeffrey Herbst tells us that "the algorithm is an editor." Click the link to read his article. Herbst believes that social media, such as Facebook, are now effectively picking what news items we see, and thus defining the reality we experience. Herbst calls this new role "editorial," but the editorial aspects of the process he outlines go far beyond what has typically been thought of as the role played by a newspaper editor. 

A newspaper editor has the power to define the reality that will be experienced by the readers of the newspaper. All readers will see the world through the same window. When an "algorithm" makes editorial decisions, the algorithm does not do so on a "collective" basis, as in the case of a newspaper editor. The social media algorithm that will determine what news you see will present you with news packaged up for you on an "individual" basis. Each one of us will be presented with a view into reality that is crafted for our own, personal consumption. We will, in other words, no longer be able to be confident that we are living in a "common" world. 

There are lots of implications, as new technologies rearrange reality for us. One lesson: get out of the house more! Experience "the news" firsthand. The best way to do that is by "making" the news!

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