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The Internet has created a wealth of information and entertainment, and that’s great.
But we still don’t have the perfect ways to find movies, books, music, information and activities we might enjoy – and especially ways to push us out of our comfort zones.
Unlocking the best ways to discover new things in our online abundance is a technological challenge – but also the human challenge. It requires that we want to be exposed to ideas and entertainment that are not necessarily relevant to our current situation.
I hope we can. It’s a way to make our lives fuller.
Call me leprosy, but I’m still amazed at the magic that the online world brings to our doorstep. We can visit world-class chess players on Twitch, discover products from Black-owned businesses, listen to people debating about nuclear power on Clubhouse or play with Polaroid-like photo application.
Surprise. But we can only experience it if we know it exists and feel compelled to seek it out. Enter calculator.
Online services like YouTube, Netflix, and TikTok analyze what you’ve watched or its computer system guesses your tastes and then recommends many of the same. Sites like Facebook and Twitter show you what your friends like or material that many others have found compelling.
Those approaches have limitations. One big point is they encouraged us to stay inside our bubbles. We continue to follow and see what we already know and like, according to our trends or the design of our websites. (Disclaimer: Several studies have suggested that social media gives people a broader perspective.)
More ideas, more things to entertain us – and more potential ways to validate what we have already believed or directed by algorithmic machine players. This was a practice before the internet, but now it has been amplified.
What is the solution? I’m not sure. Last year, my colleague Kevin Roose told me that it is important to understand ways in which the internet crowd or computer systems can affect our choices. Instead of relying on recommendations on his computer, Kevin said, he turned off autoplay in YouTube’s video settings and created his own playlist on Spotify.
I also appreciate ideas that combine computer-assisted discovery with experts who can push you in a new direction. Spotify has playlists created by experts. Apple’s editors display news articles and recommend apps for everyone to try. I want more experiments like this.
News organizations including BuzzFeed News and The New York Times have tried projects to get readers to oppose views. Facebook came up with a similar idea to suggest online forums that people might not encounter, The Wall Street Journal reported last year.
Finding things other than what we normally like also requires us to be open to ideas, cultures and diversity that challenge and surprise us. I wonder if most people are willing or given the time to do that.
In a rich sea online, I often fall back with tried and true word of mouth recommendations from people I know and experts. When looking for a new book, I ask nerd friends or read professional critics.
I don’t think I trust online crowds or algorithms, but I’m missing out. It felt as if the wonder was right within my reach, and I was completely untouchable.
We want to hear from our readers about this! How do you discover new books, music, information and activities? Tell us what you like about the digital modes for finding new content and what you think is missing. You can contact us at [email protected]
Net neutrality, part II
Some On Tech readers told us they were angry about Thursday’s news on the long way because the proposed regulations forced internet service providers to handle all of the online content on the web. the same aspect.
I have described this struggle over the rules to respect this principle of net neutrality as “nonsense” and I understand why net neutrality supporters think I am the wrong person.
That is a fair criticism. What I’m trying to show is exhaustion. The current rounds of struggle for net neutrality have at least returned since 2008. Prolonged efforts on this issue left me pessimistic about the possibility of any new rules or restrictions possible. tackling the downside of our digital world.
My colleagues, Cecilia Kang, and I also discussed the relative importance of pure neutrality compared to other technology policies, including effective rules of online manifestation and the effects of technology superpower.
Invalid response from Evan Greer, a deputy director of the digital rights group Fight for the Future, is that if people are worried about Big Tech, respecting legal neutrality is essential to restricting their power.
I will say one more thing about internet regulations. I get angry every day that a lot of Americans – especially Blacks and Latinos and households in rural areas – cannot access or afford the Internet. (Cecilia has a new article on a federal emergency grant for home internet access.)
I also get angry that Americans (and Canadians!) Pay more for internet and mobile phone service worse than people in most other rich countries.
These are complex issues that are not easy to fix. But in my view they are partly a symptom that the United States has failed to establish effective telecommunications policies and held internet and telephone service providers accountable for the promises. of them for decades. And those companies deserve great blame for settling the issues and going against any regulation.
Before we go …
Restored: I make fun of internet companies for stealing other people’s ideas or making trivial things. But my colleagues Kate Conger and Taylor Lorenz wrote about really new concepts from Twitter and a photo app startup called Dispo.
The military was Silicon Valley’s original customer: Several major US tech companies have recently shied away from cooperating with the US military, partly because of complaints from employees. My colleague Cade Metz has reported on smaller companies attracting business from government agencies and the Pentagon with technology, like a self-driving drone.
Roombas people are acting “drunk”: A software update for some robot vacuum cleaner models has caused them to do weird things, such as repeatedly smashing against walls.
Dwayne Reed, a teacher, author and rapper in Chicago, made a music video to encourage children to wear masks. It is extremely tempting. (Thanks to my colleague Natasha Singer for sharing this.)
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