Google, democracy and the truth about internet search

With the rise of bigoted right-wing mobs everywhere in the world, coinciding with 15 years of Online search engines, it’s worth asking these questions — how impartial should Google be to information?

For Google’s mechanical search algorithms, the answers to auto-suggested searches like ‘Are women evil’, ‘Are jews bad/are Muslims bad’ are all: *yes, and here are thousands of pages and videos that say so, some with ‘proof’ in the title*
If you ask ‘Was Hitler bad?’ you get on the top of the page, ’10 reasons why Hitler was one of the good guys’.
Digital tech massively empowers the ignorant as much as it spreads knowledge. Yet we know from TV and print about human nature, that sensationalized bad news attracts people more than informed good news.

Link: Google, democracy and the truth about internet search | Technology | The Guardian

A prehistory of social media

Before there was Facebook, there was the Telegram, and before that, in 17th Century Oxford, there were shops that sold ‘that Muslim drink, Coffee’, and kept the students from their studies. Its all too familiar.

Enthusiasm for coffeehouses was not universal, however, and some observers regarded them as a worrying development. They grumbled that Christians had taken to a Muslim drink instead of traditional English beer, and fretted that the livelihoods of tavern-keepers might be threatened. But most of all they lamented that coffeehouses were distracting people who ought to be doing useful work, rather than networking and sharing trivia with their acquaintances.

When coffee became popular in Oxford and the coffeehouses selling it began to multiply, the university authorities objected, fearing that coffeehouses were promoting idleness and diverting students from their studies. Anthony Wood, an Oxford antiquarian, was among those who denounced the enthusiasm for the new drink. “Why doth solid and serious learning decline, and few or none follow it now in the university?” he asked. “Answer: Because of coffee-houses, where they spend all their time.”

The more things change…

Via Kottke: Cicero’s Web, a prehistory of social media.

TED Video: Sherry Turkle: ‘No one is listening’

Sherry Turkle: Connected, but alone? | Video on

One of the best talks i’ve seen about how new technology affects us, and what really matters about this thing called ‘community’ – from a woman at the center of it all. Must see.

Continue reading TED Video: Sherry Turkle: ‘No one is listening’