Breitbart, Web We Lost, Harassment, Sluts and Network Cards

Study: Breitbart-led right-wing media ecosystem altered broader media agenda

After the 2016 election the Columbia Journalism Review published a study of social media sharing patterns for Facebook and Twitter. They wanted to understand how different media outlets informed or misinformed voters on the right and left. Instead of finding people to be in self-reinforcing “filter bubbles” or “echo chambers” that reinforce what people already believe, they found that there were asymmetries in how users on left and right were embracing technology. There was a new right-wing media ecosystem that was much more insular and detached from traditional media sources. On the left there were partisan sites but there were stronger connections to mainstream media.

Going forward journalists need to think about how to build (or rebuild) a basis for the public to form a shared belief about what is happening. A common set of facts is a necessary precursor for civil society to have a constructive debate about public policy issues.

The Web We Lost, Rebuilding the Web We Lost

Anil Dash is a blogger, technologist, and entrepreneur who writes about improving the Internet and tech world. In his essay The Web We Lost, he writes about the negative aspects of the Internet’s evolution over the past ten to twenty years. E-Commerce has exploded and a small number of people have become very wealthy, but culture has been impacted. The meaning behind a simple thing like links has changed when they became monetized by Google. It was easier to share content and people owned their own data. It was a less sophisticated but more authentic Internet. Many young people don’t know what the web was like before. Anil argues that we need to preserve the way the Internet used to be because those lost strengths are what made the Internet the thing that it is today.

Dash writes about how we can regain the old Internet in Rebuilding the Web We Lost. He argues that we can do so if we accept blame for the negative changes and take responsibility for changing it back. We should improve UX standards to make the web easily accessible to non-technical people. We should make use of cloud computing and create true public spaces instead of privately owned public spaces. Dash thinks that the technology industry will follow a typical industry cycle and will shift back in the opposite direction in the near future.

Harassment Hurts Us All. So Does Censorship

Jillian York is a writer, free-expression activist, and Director International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. In her essay Harassment Hurts Us All, So Does Censorship, she argues that censoring speech on the Internet would have a negative impact on society. In her view, censorship leads to overreach, resulting in legitimate content that gets blocked. Instead, she advocates that the “best remedy to ‘bad’ speech is more speech, not enforced silence.” More speech from people speaking out against the hateful speech, and in particular, speech from women and other marginalized groups. Free expression is congruous with a better society and at the EFF she fights for both.

Habits of Leaking: Of Sluts and Network Cards

Habits of Leaking: Of Sluts and Network Cards is a paper written by the digital media professor Wendy Chun and artist Sarah Friedland. The paper discusses the problem of photographs of women posted on social media platforms that are used to degrade or “shame” the subjects of the photographs. The authors argue that women have the right to use the Internet as a public space, and while doing so, women should be allowed to make mistakes without being attacked. Women shouldn’t be forced to go offline or restrict their use of the Internet to ensure their personal safety.

Final Project

My Final Project will be a continuation of my Midterm Project. I will add these features:

  • Improve CSS and HTML design. Right now the CSS files are fairly disorganized. I would like to see if I can better leverage what's in the JQuery UI theme.

  • Improve user design. During my midterm project demonstration I discovered my page did not work as well on a different sized monitor.

  • Implement "infinite scrolling" with AJAX

  • Allow users to view all sketches from one country or all sketches of one type from any country

  • Random category or country buttons

  • Allow users to flag inappropriate content

  • Administrator screen to approve inappropriate flagged sketches

I was also considering moving this project to Google's Cloud Platform. Yesterday I spent much of the day learning about their services and discovered that there are multiple ways to do what I want and that some of the services didn't actually work the way I expected them to. Also, AWS might be a better choice. After thinking about it for a while I decided that I will finish this project without cloud computing and re-address this after the class when I have a better idea of what I want to achieve.