Thursday, July 14, 2011

“On The Media” and “Echo Chambers”

Another “On the Media” show recently was really fascinating. It involved the concept of “echo chambers.”

For those who are unfamiliar with it, the World English Dictionary defines the term “echo chamber” as follows:

“Also called: reverberation chamber a room with walls that reflect sound. It is
used to make acoustic measurements and as a source of reverberant sound to be
mixed with direct sound for recording or broadcasting.”

The term “echo chamber” has been used in recent years to describe the concept that in our modern society people have so many choices about where to get information, and they are often choosing to get their information from sources that express beliefs or perspectives that are similar or identical to their own. Per this use of the term “echo chamber,” people who are disgruntled right-wingers listen to Rush or Bill to get their news because those gentlemen will put a conservative spin pleasing to their audience. Alternately, such members of the public may read books by Glenn or Ann for the same reasons. Along the same lines, the concept is that liberals will listen to Steven or Jon, or read a book by Al, or watch a film by Michael to get a spin on world events, with which they agree.

Previous discussions I’ve heard on the “echo chamber” concept essentially blame the news consumer. The standard antidote is that we should consume news from sources that at least try to provide a more objective presentation of events. It is also advocated that we should make a conscious effort to listen to viewpoints with which we do not agree.

However, the recent “On the Media” program on echo chambers explored the possibility that there may be behind-the-scenes efforts via the internet to personalized content such that there may be an echo chamber effect that we do not even realize. Despite our best efforts, we may not be escaping our own echo chamber. It was a fascinating program. The link below will allow you to access the report.

Job 5:3

I have seen the foolish taking root [and outwardly prospering], but suddenly I saw that his dwelling was cursed [for his doom was certain].

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