The truth

In a recent article Emily Bell wrote:

"Tweaking an algorithm to favour “family and friends” is the engineering equivalent of “people have had enough of experts”, in that it acknowledges that how people feel is a better driver of activity than what people think."


The only reason I read anything Emily writes is because my network links to her. Yes some of that network are my friends but they link to her because they have seen value in her "expertise". They have thought about what they are linking to and why.

She writes for a newspaper whose output is so politically slanted that I have learned not to trust it, along with all the others, and TV news has become light entertainment info-porn. I trust my network of friends more.

Three points:

  1. This only works if I am careful who my friends are and avoid ending up in a self reinforcing echo chamber.

  2. I totally concede the increasing influence of the ideology of algorithms on our lives and Facebook should be no more blindly trusted than the owners and editorial boards of newspapers.

  3. If more of us become skilled at using our volume control on mob rule we might arrive at something closer to the truth that Emily clearly cares about than we do currently.

She arrives at a similar conclusion:

"If we tolerate a political system which abandons facts and a media ecosystem which does not filter for truth, then this places a heavy burden on “users” to actively gather and interrogate information from all sides - to understand how they might be affected by the consequences of actions, and to know the origin of information and the integrity of the channels through which it reaches them. For this we are definitely better together."

Things is, can we be bothered and can we handle the truth?