Sunday, March 31, 2013

It's All About Me

"You are able to see exactly what you want to see, no more and no less."

This statement is pretty much the bottom line of Cass Sunstein's article, The Daily Me. We now live in a world where we're overwhelmed by unlimited information at our fingertips. Due to technological advances, we can be connected to the news, each other and gaming around the clock and around the globe. "Google" has become an every day verb and social media allows us to update our circle of friends of our every move. The way we communicate in the past is vastly different today where each individual has their choice in what information they want to receive.

While reading The Daily Me I was reminded of Winifred Gallagher's Top Down, Bottom Up concept and people's choice of how they'd like to receive their information. This article seems to line up very much with the Top Down side where personalization is up to the receiver. 

I must I agree with Sustein's argument that complete independence of "personalized news" might not be the best thing for democracy and our society as a whole. If everyone is picking only the news and information they like and want to see, how are they going to stay informed by world issues, current events and breaking news that they might not be interested in but are very important to know? Take school for example, where you don't necessarily like every subject you are required to take but it's vital to help develop you into a well rounded informed student. 

Sustein's two distinctive requirements for a well-functioning system of free expression are 1) people should be exposed to materials that they would not have chosen in advance and 2) many or most citizens should have a range of common experiences. I also agree this is a good standard for us to live by. 

What if:
  • High students got to pick only the classes the wanted to go attend?
  • College went completely online so there was no more interaction among professors and classrooms?
  • Employees only selected the portions of their job they liked to do?
  • Young adults only received news from the celebrities they followed on twitter?
  • People paid for direct TV by the number of channels they picked and only those would be shown?
As someone who's not huge on pop culture, I often look to my friends for suggestions of movies and browse my channels for new shows to watch. I also love when Pandora makes new suggestions for me and I hear new artists for the first time that I'd never listen to otherwise. If the concept of The Daily Me really came fully swing (which it's close to now) where communications are personally designed and chosen in advance, I feel I'd miss out on a lot of information. Much like the saying, "You don't know what's out there until you try/look" I feel it's important to look to the higher up's of the journalism world and their professional coverage of news whether you completely agree with their opinions or not. 

Free expression and top down selection is very important but I will be the first to admit I don't know everything and truly value shared experiences and the help of others!  

Happy Easter! 


  1. Even before the internet, I think people probably sought out or paid attention to information that supports their beliefs. But the internet makes it so much easier to be isolated and avoid diverse viewpoints. I wondered when I read The Daily Me, if the polarization we see now in politics has anything to do with the echo chamber effect.

  2. On a side note, I had a literal "Squirrel!" moment at my house the other night that I think you and MJ will find amusing... our dining room table is near the back door so you can see into our backyard easily while eating. During dinner, Grant was in the middle of telling us a story about something at school when he looked over at the back door and suddenly yelled "Squirrel!" in mid-sentence :)