Tag Archives: media 2.0

Truth Goggles

According to Neiman Journalism Lab:

“Dan Schultz, a graduate student at the MIT Media Lab (and newly named Knight-Mozilla fellow for 2012), is devoting his thesis to automatic bullshit detection. Schultz is building what he calls truth goggles — not actual magical eyewear, alas, but software that flags suspicious claims in news articles and helps readers determine their truthiness. It’s possible because of a novel arrangement: Schultz struck a deal with fact-checker PolitiFact for access to its private APIs.”

(via Bull beware: Truth goggles sniff out suspicious sentences in news » Nieman Journalism Lab.)

It’s a fascinating idea. Imagine browsers having a plug-in that is able to fact check all sorts of data using sources such as Wikipedia. It could have a huge impact on the future of news media. Imagine reading an article on, say, climate change in The Australian, and this “truth goggles” plug-in pointing out all of the inconsistencies in their reporting.

Or imagine reading Hilary Clinton ramping up the case for invading Iran because they are weaponising uranium, but have “truth goggles” pointing out that there is no evidence to support this claim.

Of course, this process doesn’t *need* to be automated with an algorithm. Chrome extensions like “Glass” allow people to comment on websites. For example, see this screenshot of a comment I left using Glass on a story in the Brisbane Times today about News Ltd corruption allegations from former QLD senator Bill O’Chee.

Could we all use tools like Glass to subvert the ability of the mainstream media and certain blogs to spin bullshit to their readers? Of course there is always the comments section of most sites these days, but perhaps they tend to get moderated and news sites promote comments by their faithful believers. Would Glass-like tools also get corrupted by flame wars? How do we keep them clean and useful? User moderation ala Wikipedia?

 

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Julian Assange at TED July 2010

Australia’s most impressive media entrepreneur, Julian Assange, explains how Wikileaks works and provides some insight into recent events, in this recent interview with Wired’s Chris Anderson at TED.

http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf

Assange is trying to use the internet to change the world. He is what Peter Ellyard would call a “Future Maker”. I’m constantly motived and inspired by Julian’s quietly bold approach to tackle world governments and corporations. He’s spot on in this interview when he says a good approach to figuring out what the most important news is, is to discover what corporations and governments are spending a lot of effort and money to keep secret.

Recently I’ve been reading ridiculous suggestions that Wikileaks is a “honey trap” for whistleblowers. The idea seems to be that Wikileaks gets potential whistleblowers to come forward, and then they are arrested, Manning’s recent arrest is taken as being a sign that something is rotten in Denmark. The only problem with this scenario is that stuff is being leaked. It would be seem a bit of a stretch to think the establishment are allowing their dirty laundry to get exposed in an effort to create a temptation for potential whistleblowers to come forwards. As Julian says at the beginning of the video, Wikileaks has released more leaks in the last couple of years than the rest of the world media COMBINED.

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Wikileaks Proves You Can’t Trust The Obama Pentagon

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rXPrfnU3G0&rel=0&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xcfcfcf&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&fs=1]

(via Wikileaks, probably the most exciting news operation on the planet at the moment)

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a “debate” confined between two false poles

There’s a fascinating post on Dissident Voice about the battle going on in the UK between the BBC and corporate media who are apparently threatened by the breadth of the Beeb’s online offerings.

Quotes:

"The Murdochs of this world are naturally unable to conceive that corporate sponsorship compromises news reporting, showering pound and dollar-shaped sticks and carrots that inevitably cause journalism to slither in corporate-friendly directions."

"In his dystopian novel, 1984, George Orwell described the art of thought control called “Newspeak”:

“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.”

We are offered a “debate” confined between two false poles: the claim that the BBC is a threat to the “independent news” provided by commercial interests, and the claim that the BBC is a rare source of “independent, truthful” reporting. Modern journalism acts to “narrow the range of thought”, thus serving the powerful interests that control the mass media."

This idea about "a debate confined between two false poles" is something that Chomsky has been talking about for decades. In the West, we’re told that we have a ‘free press’ but, in reality, we have a press that’s owned either by wealthy individuals (Packer, Murdoch, Stokes, et al) or the Government… whose hold on power is often regulated BY those wealthy individuals and their control over the way the population thinks due to their media assets. And so what tends to happen is that our media discusses the happenings of the day in a limited fashion, always confining the debate between two false poles, making it LOOK like we have choice and healthy debate, where in reality we’re only given a small range of options to discuss.

My favourite example in Australia is to look at our election coverage. What is the range of debate and discussion given in the Australian media, during election cycles or any other time for that matter, to alternatives to our consumerist capitalist economic model? Where is the open discussion about the benefits of Socialism or Communism? It doesn’t happen. Why? Because the aforementioned wealthy owners of the media companies don’t want the people thinking about Socialism or Communism unless, of course, it’s to talk about the failures of those alternative models. The reason they don’t want us thinking about these alternatives is that if we moved towards them, they would lose their wealth, power and privilege.

This is why we need a NEW media that isn’t controlled by corporate interests.

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Bad news for newspapers

Bronwen has written a great piece explaining, once again, why newspapers (and the companies behind them) are at the end of the road.

Of course the argument for paid content is about defending commercial news organisations and not journalism. Problem is the two aren’t mutually exclusive anymore.

For starters, it excludes the competition from government subsidised media – SBS and ABC – who probably can’t wait for News Corp and Fairfax to start charging for their content. A senior news person at SBS told me just yesterday that he “WANTS those sites to charge!” – not because he believes in paid content, he doesn’t, but because it certainly brightens his future.

read more: bronwen clune » Blog Archive » Bad news for newspapers, great news for journalism.

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