More Bubbles

Blue feed, red feed

For homework you blogged about the conservative, liberal, and mainstream filter bubbles your groups described on Thursday. You were asked questions about how these feeds shared or isolated certain stories, provided sources and/or links, or were credible after reading laterally. Two questions:

  • What did you write about? What surprised you?
  • What claims did you encounter that are just begging to be checked?
  • If there’s time, let’s compare filter bubbles for coverage of the national anthem during NFL games that were played on Sunday.

Filter bubbles, continued

I asked you to watch this TED Talk by Eli Pariser for today on filter bubbles, so let’s begin by making this 2011 talk more relevant. In your groups, take 10-15 minutes to read the Pariser quotation and complete the related task. Be ready to share your findings with the class and explain how they demo the aspect of filter bubbles Pariser is discussing in your assigned quotation.

Group 1

“Even if you’re logged out, one engineer told me, there are 57 signals that Google looks at — everything from what kind of computer you’re on to what kind of browser you’re using to where you’re located — that it uses to personally tailor your query results. Think about it for a second: there is no standard Google anymore.”

Task: Do a search for “Google Analytics” and see what this tool can do. What some of the features of Analytics that any web designer can use to track or influence readers?

Image result for Google Analytics

Group 2

“There are a whole host of companies that are doing this kind of personalization. Yahoo News, the biggest news site on the Internet, is now personalized — different people get different things. Huffington Post, the Washington Post, the New York Times — all flirting with personalization in various ways. And this moves us very quickly toward a world in which the Internet is showing us what it thinks we want to see, but not necessarily what we need to see.”

Task: Which of your online accounts have personalization settings? Which of these can you turn off? Do some poking around the web to see if you can find advice on this and be ready to share some tips with us.

Image result for settings "google news"

Group 3

“…what’s in your filter bubble depends on who you are, and it depends on what you do. But the thing is that you don’t decide what gets in. And more importantly, you don’t actually see what gets edited out.

Task: Visit the site Blue Feed, Red Feed, play around with the filter bubbles, and read the methodology. Be ready to explain it to the class. 

Image result for blue feed red feed

Group 4

“What we’re seeing is more of a passing of the torch from human gatekeepers to algorithmic ones. And the thing is that the algorithms don’t yet have the kind of embedded ethics that the editors did. So if algorithms are going to curate the world for us, if they’re going to decide what we get to see and what we don’t get to see, then we need to make sure that they’re not just keyed to relevance. We need to make sure that they also show us things that are uncomfortable or challenging or important ”

Task: What are some of the factors that go into Facebook’s algorithms? List them and tell us which of these give users some control. 

Image result for starred friends settings facebook


Homework for Thursday, 9/28

  1. Read Caulfield’s chapters on using scholarly sources to read laterally, including:
  1. Use your 5th WordPress post to go upstream on a news report that cites a recent study. (For some of you who have already blogged about a recent study, feel free to pick up where you left off.) If you’re stuck, type “recent study” into Google and click the “News” tab at the top. Like so:

Once you find a news story that cites a study or piece of scholarship, go upstream to find that original study. [Note: You may have to log in to Rowan’s library to access some of these.]

Even if you cannot find the actual study, use the strategies from the chapters above to check the credibility of the journal and the expertise of the author(s). If you get stuck on one strategy, discuss it in your post, but move to another. Not all journals will have an impact factor and not all authors can be easily found in Google Scholar, but you should seek both. Ultimately your goal is to use these search strategies to “accurately summarize the state of research and the consensus of experts in a given area, taking into account majority and significant minority views.”

Filter bubbles

Today we are going to review the rubric I created from our class discussions on Tuesday and test it through a peer review exercise. Then we’re going to talk about the importance of reading laterally through an activity on filter bubbles.

Rubric for Fact-checking

On Tuesday both sections worked to create a list of expectations for the fact-check blog posts; I thought we did a nice job and produced a list that overlapped between the 2 sections. Yesterday I organized these lists into a rubric:

Take a look at this rubric and notice how I used the expectations we brainstormed to convert them into an evaluation tool. In order to test the effectiveness of this tool, I want you to evaluate a post by doing the following:

  1. Choose a post that you would like evaluated and quickly re-read it.
  2. Evaluate your blog using the rubric. Is this post mostly ?, ?, or ??
  3. Once you’ve done that, exchange posts with a nearby partner and have them evaluate the same post. Do they see it as mostly?, ?, or ?? The goal here to check your self-evaluation with someone else’s. As an evaluator, please imagine that you are me and really scrutinize the post. In other words, be a tough grader and be ready to justify your selections.
  4. Do the scores match? How can certain aspects be improved? Do you know what you need to do?

Filter Bubbles: Or, the Importance of Reading Laterally

After Trump was elected last November, Saturday Night Live ran this satirical ad of a planned community called “The Bubble”:

The ad poked fun of the privileged position that hipsters, progressives, or white millennials can choose to close themselves off from a version of America that threatens their worldview (they jokingly call it “Brooklyn”). It’s a funny skit because it plays of off some of the fundamental trouble with a networked view of reality.  Hence, the importance of what Caulfield calls “reading laterally.” For your homework today, you read laterally by looking at what others have said about BreitbartOccupy Democrats, or FoxNews. From this you were supposed to answer a few questions:

  • What did you discover from other sources? Did you trust this information you read?
  • What could you find about each of these sources in terms of the site’s process, expertise, and aim?
  • What makes these three sources –BreitbartOccupy Democrats, or FoxNews – a potential threat to democracy?

Activity: Bubble Briefing

Click your group’s link below and use the Google Doc to follow your bubble of sources. Use these sources to compose a briefing on the top stories of the day. Each group should make a list of the Top 3-5 stories (write only a few sentences for that summarize each) and include a link to one representative article.

ConservativeTownhallDrudge Report, The Geller ReportBreitbart, and The Blaze

LiberalThe Raw StoryOccupy DemocratsHuffington Post, The Intercept, and AlterNet 

Mainstream: NY Times, ABC News, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Politico 


Homework for Tuesday, 9/26

  1. Watch this TED Talk by Eli Pariser on filter bubbles.
  2. Read the briefings above and a few of the representative articles each group linked to. As you read, compare them. Create a new (4th) post in WordPress wherein you discuss some or all of the following questions:
  • What headlines and stories cut across the three bubbles? What stories seem unique to those bubbles?
  • Do particular keywords keep coming up across or within each bubble?
  • How do they differ? Do they draw from different sources—interviews, studies, unnamed sources, etc.? How do they link to other sources or stories?
  • Thinking back to how we read laterally, how would you judge these sources on their process, expertise, and aims? What standards of credibility or accuracy seem to exist in each bubble? How do you know?
  • Are there any claims or supposed facts in these stories that are just begging for a more detailed fact-check? Which ones and why? How might you do about it?