Tuesday, November 17, 2009

T.M.I. and Polarization effects of the Internet.

The title of the blog stands for too much information. What? Is it possible to have too much information? I think in some cases, it can cause a distortion and polarization of viewpoints, especially in the political circus of American Politics.

Well let me clarify the statement of too much information. I mean too much information of the same viewpoint. The Internet allows a person to seek easy reinforcement of opinions and viewpoints that the person may hold. It is easy to find out "You are not alone" in whatever it may be. But are you just reinforcing  preexisting viewpoints?

With the old news information networks like newspapers and TV news, reading or watching exposed you to stories with viewpoints that were not particularly yours at the time. But, if a valid case was made or facts that were previously not known presented for a different opinion, intelligent minded people may actually veer towards changing their mind.

In a way, you were forced to deal with differences in thinking. You could think of it like traveling to another country or culture.You are exposing yourself to different opinions and facts, expanding your mind and outlook.

With today's instant click stories, blogs, and websites dedicated to certain viewpoints, doesn't this act as a reinforcement of ideas, giving people a sense of belonging with this "group-think". Most of these sites also contain links to "Sites we follow"that will further elaborate on the same viewpoint, perhaps getting just that perfect angle or soundbite that trumps the site before.

With the new social networking applications becoming more popular, does this reinforce this process?. If you create a network of friends, doesn't most of those friends hold similar opinions about social issues and political mandates. Even when a dissimilar viewpoint is expressed, does it eventually become a comment shout-down instead of debate? There has even been a funny observation of that phenomena, see Godwins Rule of Internet debate.

I am under the opinion that the current state of affairs of partisan politics is not all just the effects of the Bush Administration and throwing the Republicans out because of the direction the country was taking. I think that this is the new face of the American political process. Each political side, with its vast virtual army of spin, will continue to enlarge the gap between what is considered the center, not only by cherry picking stories to present their particular slant, but also by playing on emotions of a "Us versus Them" or "those people.."

There will always be biased news, blogs, and sources of "Truth". The Lawyer and Engineer blog could be claimed to be biased by who we make fun of. But we have also stated that any viewpoint, if the facts can be presented, will have value.

The only path that must be taken is for people to base their opinions by making the effort, not becoming complacent in searching for the truth. Don't just go to the same places for your facts. Mix it up, see what the other side has to say. Find out what other countries have to say about the same news. Don't be lazy!

You shouldn't always seek out that feeling of self righteous smugness from your favorite dogma channel!

 If you just want comfort, make yourself some smores.


  1. The Lawyer: Good point. The problems of this world, in all of their complexity, will get solved by serious minded pragmatist from both sides of the spectrum that put the common good ahead of partisan power. We don't have that here in the United States right now, and it's hard to imagine that we will.

  2. The Engineer: All progress requires bringing in various ideas and debate. That goes for engineering, those closed door smokey lawyer things you do, or politics. Right now, the sides are so completely divided, that if the Demos didn't have the majority, nothing would get done. Complete stagnation!