Thursday, May 28, 2009

How are People Using the Internet? To find out new ideas or to validate closely held ideas?

New York Times op-ed columnist Nicholas D. Kristof validates a perspective I've mentioned a number of times on this blog: In his column today, "Would You Slap Your Father? If So, You’re a Liberal," Kristof writes:

"Most of us employ the Internet not to seek the best information, but rather to select information that confirms our prejudices."
Kristof recommends that we should work to "overcome that tendency" by setting "aside time for a daily mental workout with an ideological sparring partner."

What's interesting are the studies that seem to indicate that Kristof's suggestion actually will be counterproductive: "A study by Diana Mutz of the University of Pennsylvania found that when people saw tight television shots of blowhards with whom they disagreed, they felt that the other side was even less legitimate than before."

So it seems as if we're doomed to the idea that as we find our news increasingly by search engines, we will become, as a country, to be increasingly operating in silos. Any suggestions to help bridge the gap?

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