Contract for the Web
Tim Berners-Lee has published and I have endorsed a Contract for the Web (32 page PDF). It is a forward-looking document with recommendations for governments, companies and individuals to preserve and rebuilt the web we want - to paraphrase, a web that is open and accessible, respects people’s privacy and personal data, and is based on technologies that support the best in humanity and challenge the worst.
Doug Belshaw's response to Sacha Baron Cohen captures some key points. He provides a good summary, suggests that it's a relatively "conservative" argument (which it is). He then argues that "Online hate speech and the spread of conspiracy theories and propaganda can be the proximal cause of violence. But, to my mind, they are fundamentally a symptom of deeper issues." Specifically, he says, we need to look at the financial incentives that create gigantic online publishers and influence how they behave. Second, "returning to the decentralised nature of the early web would eliminate some of the problematic network effects we see." And third, "vendor lock-in on social networks is a real thing.... you can’t take your connections and contacts elsewhere." I think all of these points are well-taken.
Mike Masnick responds to Sacha Baron Cohen's recent argument on toxic internet content. His main argument is that Cohen's premise - that a few online media companies are responsible for the online hate - is factually incorrect. "Most of the disinformation and misinformation didn't go very far until it was 'validated' by a mainstream news source, namely: Fox News." Now while I certainly respect the scholars who drew that conclusion, I have to ask wehere they obtained their definition of 'most'. Because online hate is an international problem, while Fox News - for all its vileness - is only a national broadcaster. The rest of Masnick's argument focuses on Cohen's solutions, which are in effect a call for moderation and to slow down the spread of propaganda. My thinking is that both could be assisted greatly by decentralizing. Maybe I'm wrong, but I would ask Masnick - if not this, then what? Because the current situation is surely not acceptable.
Sacha Baron Cohen points to online toxic content and observes, "All this hate and violence is being facilitated by a handful of internet companies that amount to the greatest propaganda machine in history." He argues, " Voltaire was right, 'those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.' And social media lets authoritarians push absurdities to billions of people.... The Silicon Six—all billionaires, all Americans—who care more about boosting their share price than about protecting democracy. " And he makes a call for moderation. "We have standards and practices in television and the movies; there are certain things we cannot say or do.... surely companies that publish material to billions of people should have to abide by basic standards and practices too."
This is a 10-page summary of a panel discussion. Mar Hicks offers a historical perspective showing how and why the technology industry has dragged its feet on progressive issues. Arvind Narayan argues that while tech may promise to eliminate bias, the reality is much different ( “One HR employee for a major technology company recommends slipping the words 'Oxford' or 'Cambridge' into a CV in invisible white text, to pass the automated screening”). Sherry Turkle, considering the case of machines reading to elderly people, argues "you can’t have an interpersonal relationship with a machine just because the machine is pretending to be personal." And yet, as Eden Media notes, "we’re encouraging children to develop with machines."
According to this report from the University of Leeds, "Students who rarely ate breakfast on school days achieved lower GCSE grades than those who ate breakfast frequently, according to a new study in Yorkshire." This serves as a healthy reminder that education technology ought not only focus on teaching and pedagogyt, but ought to take into account all factors related to learning, of which proper nutrition is one of the most important. The paper, published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health, is available online available online. Via Education Research Report, which reproduced the press release.
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Copyright 2019 Stephen Downes Contact: email@example.comThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.