The Net and Points of View

George's Connectivism blog is rejecting my comment, so...

Re: Centering Agents

You write, "Now, if I'm so inclined, I can listen only to perspectives of my own political party. If I follow Rush Limbaugh or Daily Kos, I can receive a constant message that assures me that I am right, and the other side is wrong. I think this is dangerous."

I reply, "Then don't do it. Read from a wide range of sources."

But, of course, you didn't mean yourself. You are concerned about what happens if *other* people don't read... well, what? Don't read things *you* think they should read?

I don't think you can make the call.

Moreover, I don't think it would be the right call to make. The net depends on autonomy - and if some people elect to withdraw from some part of the conversation, that's their right, and that's what needs to happen.


  1. I don't think George wants to take away autonomy or coerce anyone into reading something they disagree with.

    I share his concern that the net result of us all preaching to the converted and listening to our own echo chambers is more political polarization and reduced tolerance for other points of view.

    He's also right to point to education as a potential mitigating force, but this will require a shift in focus from teaching information to teaching literacy skills, especially in the social sciences (which unfortunately have tended to be marginalized in recent years).

  2. Hi Stephen - I in no way meant to communicate that I want others to read what I read. In fact, my admonition was to myself. A centering agent provides a means for us to move to some type of common understanding. I'm much more comfortable talking to people who are informed in a broad sense. A liberal who reads conservative material, a conservative who reads liberal materials - these are the types of people with whom I can dialogue.

    The notion of an echo chamber (as Jeremy metioned) can create an environment where I am unable to see a reality beyond my own. A key trait of the internet is, of course, the autonomy of each individual to consume information sources that they find interesting. I laud this aspect of the medium. I shouldn't have to consume viewpoints and information that I find offensive/inappropriate. If I take this power from the established filters (i.e. newspapers, TV news, etc.), then I can create my own information domain. Great. That's the power of the internet.

    The problem arises when people lack diversity in their own view. Our capacity to dialogue beyond our immediate environments is very important (in terms of creating a diverse society where people are able to understand and tolerant (note I'm note saying "agree with") each other.


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