I think we can safely say we live in very interesting times. Our global cultural continues to unfold in a myriad of ways that seem chaotic and unstable, yet filled with potential. When we ask the question, is the news on all that is emerging reaching us in ways that are really different from what we have experienced before, the answer for me is YES! No judgement yet on whether this is a good or bad thing, just that news reporting has changed fundamentally in the past 5 years.
One of the qualities of this post-truth world is that we are buried in a growing tsunami of NEWS perspectives, some factual and some not. I’ve always been interested in the stories we tell about our now and future selves because I believe what we imagine influences how and why we form opinions and take action in the world. The news that informs us is part of that.
The first thing I can say upfront concerning the current news environment… “you just can’t write this stuff!!!” It feels totally unprecedented to me. Concepts like alternative truth or fake news are bandied about as if they are the new normal. They are repeated over and over again by a variety of 24/7 sources until they seem to have some validity. Who knows, in the end they may.
In many instances these “news stories” are not fact based reporting anymore, but someone’s “opinion driven programming.” But before we claim all sanity is lost, let’s remember (from an Integral perspective) this seeming chaos is to be expected. We claim we are in a transition from extractive meaning making systems to more generative discernments. As in all transitions, the established order fractures as it reaches to higher levels of complexity. Yet even knowing that, the question remains, how do we stay informed while this evolutionary advance into novelty sorts itself out.
In this series of dispatches I’m going attempt to give you a basic premier about what is changing about the news. Then I am going to continue to track this story as it continues to emerge. I predict at the end of these first videos that 2018 would be the year we would finally wake up about the role that tech giants like Google, Facebook and Amazon have in shaping our cultural conversation. Little did I foresee that as a result of the investigation into Russia’s meddling in our 2016 elections, the tech giants would be challenged around the world to explain how they were safeguarding the data they were collecting from all of us as we use their search and social media platforms. And lastly the accuracy of the news that results from collecting our data. So, all of that is to come. As you watch these videos, ask yourself the following (and feel free to use the Notes app in the lower-left corner of this screen to record your thoughts):
What stories are informing me about the current cultural landscape, and how is my engagement with these stories influencing my thoughts, feelings, and actions in the world?
In this dispatch I look at the current news environment to see what has fundamentally changed with the addition of 24/7 cable sources, Facebook news feed, Google search results and Twitter and Instragram postings. I explore the impact of the speed at which information now comes at us, the qualities of the sources that are in play and the intent of these “news” platforms as they compete with each other to influence your opinions about what is going on and make a buck in the process.
Doug Rushkoff: Present Shock
Doug is one of my favorite social media commentators. In this dispatch we use a bit from his film Present Shock. It looks at the speed of technological advancements that can result in us feeling overwhelmed. Doug is one of my favorite media pundits, railing against the numbness that pervades too much of our social discourse. Click here to go to his web site. Listen to his Team Human podcasts, buy his books, watch his films and keep this guy in the conversation.
Ken Wilber: The Information Age
From time to time in these dispatches I reference one of my mentors, Ken Wilber. For those of you who don’t know Ken, he is a noted American philosopher and bestselling author who is the founder and pundit for all of us in the Integral Life community. Click here to access his biography clip where he a talks about the qualities of this information age we find ourselves in. Once there, you will find over 50 hours of video of him talking about his life, work, books, and viewpoints with links to his Integral Life community.
Jonathan Taplin: Move Fast and Break Things
Jonathan is an old friend of mine from my Hollywood days. He has a deep resume as a major music and film producer and lately is writing on the cultural impacts of the tech giants Google, Facebook and Amazon. Click here to hear my full interview with Jonathan. His book Move Fast and Break Things has really influenced what I think is possible.
In this dispatch, I look at a popular cultural story currently being reinforced by so many of our dystopian movies and television series. This story postulates we are standing at a crossroads with a 50/50 chance that we will bring about our own demise. In this piece, I examine different perspectives of how change actually takes place viewed from the three narratives of the culture war we find ourselves in and look again at the claim that a small group of people can indeed change the world.
Ken Wilber: The Creative Advance into Novelty
For me, Ken offers the one of the best explanations of how change happens that I have seen. Based on the original work of Alfred North Whitehead – Ken’s expanded notion of what’s included as time moves forward, contains a fresh, creative finding that illuminates for me the possibilities in each moment. Click here to see if this resonates with you.
Integral Life Membership: Integral Research on the Culture Wars
Integral Life is the on-line media community that contains the most complete collection of media on Integral Philosophy. One of the aspects of change the Integral AQAL map reveals is that there is currently a culture war going on every night in our news coverage that pits three narratives against each other of how our culture wants to organize. See more on this and Integral Theory by clicking here.
US Founders Descendants
You have all seen the classic paintings of this extraordinary group of mostly white men at the signing of the US Declaration of Independence. We now also know, many woman and minorities were also key to this advance in cultural development. This image depicts the current descendants of the male founders in the original painting. I thought it was high time we acknowledged women’s and minorities role in this pivotal moment of human history. Click here to see the original source of this image and the story behind it.
Stanford Graduate School of Education: Students have trouble judging the credibility of information online
In this dispatch, I look at a research study conducted in 2016 by the Stanford Graduate School of Education. They looked at the ability of top students to tell the difference between real news, fake news or paid advertising content. Spoiler alert: they didn’t do very well and they are not alone. We all get fooled these days by cleverly worded “click bait”. Click here to see the published summary of the study. It includes a link to download the executive summary of the study.
In this dispatch, I look at the story that we are in a period of rapid cultural and technological change. Each new day seems to bring more chaos, confusion and possibility. This can be difficult to navigate and can cause us to shut down or pull back from engaging with the world. If you are feeling this way, it’s all that more important to find trusted sources of information and engage with them in a way that is healthy for you. But in the current news environment what does that mean?
Facebook and Google seem to have become the arbiters of what is popular as they feed news back to us based on our personal preferences. One result is that fringe perspectives that have always been on the edge of the conversation are now are being talked about as if they are mainstream thinking. And how can we tell the difference anymore between real objective reporting, fake news propaganda and advertising masquerading as news content. Find it mindboggling? Welcome to what many are calling the new normal!
Ken Wilber: Culture Wars
A revolutionary finding of Integral Philosophy is that the last 100 years of human psychological studies point to three stages of development currently vying for dominance in our cultural landscape. All three of them are partially correct. You can see them all at work on the evening news as science expresses distain for religion, sustainability pundits question commercial success etc. In this clip Ken outlines what he calls the Culture Wars and talks about the qualities of each view.
Armand Tweets: How Facebook Works
I love Armand’s “how to” video clips. When I went looking for someone to explain Facebook in simple terms, his was the best. He explains how the news feed works and how personal profiles are built. Please support his YouTube channel. We need him in the conversation.
Wael Ghonim: Designing Social Media to Drive Change
We all watched the Arab Spring revolt unfold in Egypt. One of the stories that emerged was of a young Egyptian that had called the masses into the streets using a Facebook post. Wael Ghonim became a noted voice for the impact of social media when he first claimed “social media is all you need” and then three years later saying” I was wrong”. What Wael points to in this TED talk is that he learned that social media was good for calling people into the streets but not for trying to implement change after the revolution. Check out what he’s learned and what he is working on now.
It’s easy to feel Facebook’s cultural influence as it facilitates 2 billion members. That’s roughly 31% of the world population. But Google, the other dominant player in shaping our opinions, has its own unique challenges that come as a result of rapid growth and a desire to dominate the search related digital advertising marketplace.
In this dispatch I look at Google’s continuing dominance of the search market highlighting problems that have recently surfaced in how it pushes certain stories to the top of its results. The other topic I cast some illumination on is the latest move by Google, Facebook and Amazon to capture more of our personal data through digital assistants located in every room or our homes. If you’re like me and find this more than just a little creepy, check it out. You don’t have to become the family they are featuring in their advertising.
In this dispatch, I offer some perspectives that can help you cut through the complexities of our current news environment. How can you ascertain the intentions of companies like Google and Facebook who have become our main arbiters of what is popular? What do we, as digital media participants, need to be aware of in our own actions on-line? How involved do we want these companies in our political process? Is it time to say… enough already?
Three search sites that don’t track like Google
If you are looking for alternatives to using Google Search, this article lays out what Google extracts from your searches and gives you three examples of competent search alternatives that claim they don’t keep any record of what you do.
Bryan Lunduke: Kicking Google out of my life, Part 4 – Goodbye, Gmail
This article chronicles one man’s crusade to eliminate Google services from his life. The big one is Gmail. He gives you alternatives to Gmail that doesn’t data mine your e-mails.
The Best VPN Services for US – Natural Intelligence Ltd.
I always thought that setting up a VPN service to mask my web activity from my broadband provider would be difficult or slow down my net speeds too much but I decided I didn’t want them selling my data to third parties anymore.
VPN has come a long way. This “top ten” list from Natural Intelligence has some good options. I recently picked one of them and it installed and worked seamlessly. You may have issues with services like NetFlix but you can easily turn off the VPN to view those programs.
The question hanging in the air with every new revelation about the use of our data to create a new type of news, is what are governments doing about it, if anything. In this dispatch I look at the first major effort by the European Union to re-balance the data privacy interchange with new rules it is issuing called the General Data Protection Regulations or GDPR for short. These new regulations are the first step towards changing the engagement rules between the big platforms like Facebook, Google and Twitter and individuals with an EU address. As you can imagine this is a very complex conversation between governments, social media platforms, consumers and protection agencies and in this dispatch I attempt to give you an idea of what it all might mean for you. After watching my video, read the full articles below for all the details.
How Europe’s new privacy rule is reshaping the internet – Russell Brandom – The Verge – 3-28-2018
Facebook moves to shrink its legal liabilities under GDPR – Natasha Lomas – Techcrunch.com – 4-19-2018
Facebook has been in the crosshairs of our cultural reaction to what happened as a result of the Russian interference in the 2016 US Election. This of course leads to the data privacy conversation and the news that results. One question that has been raised (by Facebook) as well as others is… what about Google? Google collects by any measure much more data from its customers than Facebook. In this dispatch I explore what looking at Google might mean as this conversation heats up going forward. After watching my video, read the article below for all the detail.
Did Facebook Just Start The Blame Game? Says Google Also Sucks Your Data – Aditya Tiwari – FossBytes – 4-17-2018
David. Great series so far. Loved the background and the solution “make better” options available. Real and tangible. I hope these are available to the wider global audience. Yup…a great story-teller are you!! 👍👍
David – love your content and approach – more please 🙂
David, how about captioning all videos for hearing impaired viewers? I have been an Integral subscriber for a long time and am getting only half the services when they are offered by voice only. Just sharing.